Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 16:51 UK

Turkey PM 'insult' artist cleared

Michael Dickinson outside a Turkish court
Michael Dickinson denied his work was offensive

An artist who made a collage mocking Turkey's prime minister by portraying him as a dog, has been acquitted by a court of insulting him.

Michael Dickinson, 58, was cleared by a court in Istanbul after a judge decided the controversial collage of Tayyip Erdogan was art and not insulting.

The piece, called Good Boy, showed Mr Erdogan as a dog with a stars and stripe leash and nuclear missile tail.

Mr Dickinson, originally from Durham, has worked in Turkey for 20 years.

The artist had already been held in custody for 10 days in 2006 after police seized another collage considered to be offensive.

At the time, he was ordered to leave the country, but was charged when he later returned on a tourist visa.

The Turkish court said that although Mr Dickinson's work "had some insulting elements" it could be considered within the limits of criticism and he was acquitted.

Good Boy by Michael Dickinson
Mr Dickinson's Good Boy provoked anger in Turkey

Speaking after the hearing on Thursday, Mr Dickinson said: "It was all over in about 20 minutes.

"The judge read out a testimonial letter from Professor Mehmet Ozer, an art teacher at Marmara University saying that in his opinion the collage 'Good Boy' was more an example of political criticism rather than an insult.

"He said as Turkey was trying to join the European community a collage such as mine should not be held as a crime.

"So I'm free, without even a fine. I'm very relieved to have it all over now after having lived under the shadow of the charge for the last two years."

In 2006 Mr Dickinson exhibited a collage entitled Best in Show depicting the Turkish PM as a dog receiving a rosette from President Bush.

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