Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Artist fined for insulting Turkish PM Erdogan

Michael Dickinson with Barack Obama collage
The artist showed another collage as part of his defence case

An English artist whose work was found to have mocked Turkey's prime minister has been handed a fine in place of a jail term.

Michael Dickinson, 59, originally from County Durham, created "Good Boy" which showed Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a dog with a US flag as his lead.

He was cleared of a charge of mockery in 2008 but this was later overturned.

A judge in Istanbul sentenced him to 14 months in prison, but immediately commuted the sentence to a fine.

The artist, and anti-war activist - who had lived and worked in Turkey for 24 years - fled the country and returned to County Durham after his acquittal was quashed.

However, he was unable to get a job and went back to Istanbul.

During the hearing earlier, the prosecutor insisted he should face a custodial sentence for his cartoon.

The judge laughed a number of times during Mr Dickinson's defence, which included one of his collages, this time depicting Barack Obama as a dog.

Michael Dickinson's Good Boy
Mr Dickinson's Good Boy angered some people in Turkey

He then ruled that although the artist had insulted the prime minister and should be handed the prison term, it should be commuted to a fine equivalent to about £3,000.

Mr Dickinson then refused to pay, prompting the judge to tell him that if he made no more cartoons about the country's prime minister for five years, the fine would be waived.

Outside court, Mr Dickinson said he was "relieved".

"I didn't know what to expect," he said.

"But I still don't think I should have been guilty, and I'm not saying I'm not going to make any more cartoons of politicians."

He did not rule out a return to the UK, but added: "I like it here, I like the food, the people, the weather.

"But at least in Britain I could make satirical pictures of Gordon Brown and not go to jail."

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