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Turkish Justice Ministry denies permission for Article 301 trial against Avcı

ISTANBUL - Daily News with Milliyet | 3/14/2011 12:00:00 AM |

The Turkish Justice Ministry has refused a request from Interior Ministry inspectors that Hanefi Avcı be tried for 'insulting the state of the Turkish republic' in statements in a book he wrote.

The Turkish Justice Ministry has refused a request from Interior Ministry inspectors that arrested former police chief Hanefi Avcı be tried for “insulting the state of the Turkish republic” in statements in a book he wrote.

The request for Avcı to be tried under Article 301, which criminalizes insulting the Turkish state or Turkishness, was based on his recent book, which alleged that there are a number of links between the Fethullah Gülen community and the country’s police force. The authority to try people under that article requires the Justice Ministry’s permission. The ministry ruled Avcı’s book fell within the scope of freedom of thought and speech.

Many authors and intellectuals, including the assassinated Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink were sentenced under Article 301 for their published works before its practice was limited to the ministry’s authority.

However, a claim that Avcı had “praised members of a terrorist organization” was separated from the demand as a different file and sent to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s office for examination.

Avcı has been in the media spotlight since publishing a book last year titled “Haliç’te Yaşayan Simonlar: Dün Devlet Bugün Cemaat” (“Devotee” Residents of Haliç: Yesterday State, Today Religious Community), which alleges that the religious Gülen community has covertly taken control of the state.

The former police chief was arrested following the book’s publication for alleged contacts with the outlawed Revolutionary Headquarters, an alleged leftist organization. Prior to the publication of the book, Avcı was considered to be close to the Gülen community and was on record as saying that he had fought against leftists throughout his career.

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