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Last Updated: Monday, 1 May 2006, 22:10 GMT 23:10 UK
Turkey turns down editor's appeal
Turkish men reading newspapers
The case is being watched closely by officials in Brussels
A Turkish court has rejected an appeal by a prominent journalist against a ruling that found him guilty of insulting Turkishness.

Hrant Dink, an ethnic Armenian living in Turkey, was given a six-month suspended sentence last October.

He had written a newspaper article which addressed the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians nine decades ago.

This case is one of several monitored closely by EU officials concerned about limits on free speech in Turkey.

In February, the chief prosecutor's office at the Appeals Court considered Mr Dink's case and recommended that the remarks were in no way insulting.

But now, in a surprise development, the court itself has chosen to ignore that interpretation and ruled that the substance of the charge still stands.

'Extremely distressed'

It is a blow for the defence team.

The high-profile newspaper editor, whose publication Agos appears in Turkish and Armenian, was first found guilty of insulting Turkishness last year when a court ruled that one of his articles described Turkish blood as dirty.

Hrant Dink always denied his words meant any such thing and argued his column was in fact aimed at improving the difficult relationship between Turks and Armenians.

The case will now go back to the local court that first heard it, and Mr Dink could face a retrial.

He told the BBC he was extremely distressed at the news.

He has always said he would have to leave the country if the courts here could not clear his name for good.

European Union officials have expressed serious concern about the article of law that was used against Hrant Dink and several dozen other writers here in Turkey.

Despite a series of reforms linked to Turkey's bid for membership of the EU, it is still illegal to insult the Turkish identity, the military and the judiciary and the line between criticism and insult is often blurred.

The controversial issue of the fate of the Ottoman Armenians is frequently the spark for court cases.

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24 Apr 05 |  Europe
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Country profile: Armenia
10 Apr 05 |  Country profiles

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