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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 23:04 GMT
Turkey moves to amend speech law
Turkish journalists protest at rally. File photo
Opponents of Article 301 say the law does not allow free speech
The Turkish government says it will change a controversial law restricting freedom of expression.

Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said a new bill would be put before the Turkish parliament in the coming days.

The law being reviewied, Article 301, bans perceived insults to Turkish identity or the country's institutions.

It has often been invoked by nationalists against those who argue the Ottoman empire committed genocide against Armenians.

"Several drafts have been prepared in line with proposals by civic groups. The cabinet will discuss them at first opportunity, select one and submit it to parliament," Mr Sahin told Anatolia news agency.

The infamous Article 301 must be repealed or amended without delay
Ollie Rehn
EU enlargement commissioner

He did not give details of how the law would be reformed.

Earlier on Tuesday the European Commission said restrictions on freedom of expression were blocking Turkey's progress towards EU membership.

"It is not acceptable that writers, journalists, academics and other intellectuals... are prosecuted for simply expressing a critical but completely non-violent opinion," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

"The infamous Article 301 must be repealed or amended without delay," he added.

Nobel-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk and Turkish-Armenian writer Hrant Dink were both prosecuted under the law for their comments on the mass killings of Armenians.

Hrant Dink was shot dead outside his Istanbul office in January 2007 and his murder revived a debate about the law.

Many said his prosecution under Article 301 made him a target for radical nationalists.

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