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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 18:03 GMT 19:03 UK
Turk 'genocide' author faces jail
Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk is accused of publicly denigrating Turkish identity
One of Turkey's best-known novelists faces three years in jail for making controversial comments on his country's killing of Armenians and Kurds.

Orhan Pamuk has been charged with insulting Turkey's national character.

He was quoted in a Swiss paper as saying that only he had dared to say that Turkey killed 30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians.

Turkey accepts thousands of Armenians were killed by Ottoman Empire forces in 1915-17, but strongly denies genocide.

The "30,000 Kurds" referred to by Mr Pamuk are those who have died since 1984 in the conflict between Turkey and Kurdish separatists.

'Public denigration'

Turkey - which is keen to improve its human rights record ahead of European Union entry talks next month - is sensitive over both the Armenian and Kurdish issues.

Mr Pamuk's comments angered Turkish nationalists and politicians when they were quoted in the magazine of Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger in February.

A prosecutor in Istanbul has now indicted Mr Pamuk on charges the remarks amounted to a "public denigration" of Turkish identity.

Journalists call for freedom of speech under Turkey's revised penal code
Turkish journalists protested over freedom of speech earlier this year

This is a crime under the newly country's revised penal code, criticised by freedom of speech advocates.

The author, whose works including My Name is Red and Snow have been translated into 20 languages, is expected to stand trial on 16 December, his publisher Tugrul Pasaoglu said.

"We have to wait for the court. Then he [Mr Pamuk] will make his speech in the court," he said.

The EU has said Turkey must meet European standards on freedom of expression.

The row over the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1917 has festered for decades.

Armenia alleges that the Ottoman Empire systematically arranged the deportation and killing of 1.5 million Armenians.

Fifteen countries, including France, Switzerland, Russia and Argentina, have classified the killings as genocide.

Turkey says up to 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died during civil strife in eastern Turkey during World War I, but rejects the term "genocide".

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