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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Turkish writer cleared over draft
Perihan Magden at court in Istanbul. File photo
Perihan Magden is well known in Turkey
A Turkish court has acquitted a writer of charges that she tried to turn Turks against compulsory military service.

Perihan Magden was on trial after arguing in the media last year that conscientious objection to serving in the army was a human right.

The court in Istanbul ruled that Ms Magden's article amounted to "heavy criticism within the scope of freedom of expression" and was not a crime.

Human rights groups hailed the verdict as a victory for freedom of speech.

'Constitutional right'

Ms Magden is well known and her often controversial columns have led to countless court cases.

The charges against her stemmed from a magazine article in December in which she argued that conscientious objection was a human right and defended a man in prison for defying the draft.

All men in Turkey are conscripted for up to 15 months.

During earlier court hearings, Ms Magden argued that the right to conscientious objection was recognised by the UN and other countries.

She said she was paid to express her opinions as a columnist, and she believed that was her constitutional right.

Had she been convicted, she faced up to three years in jail.

EU warning

Several dozen writers are still on trial in Turkey for what EU officials call their non-violent expression of opinion.

In May, a Turkish court rejected an appeal by ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink against a six-month suspended sentence for insulting Turkishness.

Earlier this year, a case was dropped against the internationally renowned writer Orhan Pamuk on the same charges.

Last month, the EU called on Turkey to amend a controversial article in its penal code in order to guarantee freedom of expression.

It was the latest warning that Turkey's difficult progress towards the EU could be delayed by its failure to respect human rights, correspondents say.

Turkish writer in call-up trial
07 Jun 06 |  Europe


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