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Last Updated: Friday, 18 November 2005, 00:57 GMT
Turkish publisher goes on trial
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Istanbul

Fatih Tas. File photo.
Fatih Tas' firm frequently publishes controversial books
A Turkish publisher has gone on trial for insulting the Turkish state and the founder of the Turkish republic.

Fatih Tas published a translation of a work by a US academic that included passages highly critical of the Turkish military during the Kurdish insurgency.

He is being prosecuted under the same article of law as Turkey's best-selling novelist Orhan Pamuk and several dozen other writers and publishers.

Mr Tas, who owns Aram Publishing House, frequently appears in court.

His firm makes a point of publishing books on subjects that are very sensitive here, and under current Turkish law that means trouble.

Article 301 of the Penal Code makes it a crime to insult Turkishness or the Republic.

Prosecutors say this book does just that.

They took offence at a map that labels a large section of Turkey a traditionally-Kurdish area.

Other complaints focus on allegations of human rights abuses by the Turkish military during the Kurdish insurgency of the 1980s and 1990s.

EU concerns

Fatih Tas argues there is nothing new in the claims and the book sets out to criticise not to insult.

The fact it was written by an American makes no difference at all.

The EU highlighted Article 301 as a serious concern in its recent progress report on Turkey's membership bid.

It has been highly critical of the limits Ankara still places on free speech here, alerted when prosecutors used the same article against Orhan Pamuk.

The trial of one of Turkey's best-selling writers starts in December.

For Fatih Tas the early signs do not suggest any leniency.

In fact the prosecutor set the tone straight away by demanding that each insult is considered as a separate charge.

Each one carries a maximum prison sentence of three years.


SEE ALSO:
Turkish press under fire
03 Mar 05 |  Europe


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