Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 13:08 UK

Artist flees over 'insult' piece

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

An artist cleared of mocking Turkey's prime minister by portraying him as a dog has fled the country after hearing his acquittal has been overturned.

Michael Dickinson, originally from County Durham, was tried in Istanbul in September over his controversial collage of Tayyip Erdogan.

The judge ruled that although it "had some insulting elements" it was art.

However, after hearing that this ruling had been quashed and a new trial was pending, he returned to the UK.

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

Mr Dickinson said he was expecting a trial to go ahead in his absence where he would be represented by his lawyer.

Extradition treaty

The 59-year-old is now staying with friends in the Consett area.

He said: "I caught a plane out as soon as I could, leaving most of my possessions behind, including my books, furnishings and computer.

"I was sad to leave after 23 years, but I don't fancy another taste of Turkish hospitality in incarceration.

"I came back thinking I would be safe, but I've since learnt that Britain has an extradition treaty with Turkey and that if there was a request, Britain could send me back to Turkey if they so wished.

"I would love to return to Turkey, but I would want to do so after being acquitted, not forced to return to face trial."

He added: "It has been a nightmare."



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