Debated law still puts 7 under trial charges

Debated law still puts 7 under trial charges

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Debated law still puts 7 under trial charges

Journalist Sinan Kara is facing charges in court due to an article he wrote in a Turkish weekly in 2006, entitled Justice Turned into the Jester of Militarism.

Despite recent amendments, seven people still face trial on charges related to article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which many consider the gravest threat to the freedom of thought and expression in Turkey.

“Article 301 has now shape-shifted, as can also be seen in the case of [Sinan] Kara. When [authorities] cannot file a suit in connection to it, [they] file it through the Anti-Terror [Law]. Ideas and thoughts, in other words, are labeled as ‘terrorists,’” said lawyer Erdal Doğan, who represents Sinan Kara, one of the suspects on trial within the scope of Article 301.

While both the justice and interior ministries refuse to divulge any information on either the content or the quantity of the lawsuits underway, unofficial figures indicate seven people are still facing trial in relation to the article.

“I have been a journalist for 30 years. I am a dissident journalist, but I can never accept being identified as a ‘terrorist’ because of my ideas,” Kara said.

Kara is facing charges in court due to an article he wrote in Turkish weekly Toplumsal Demokrasi (Social Democracy) in 2006, entitled “Adalet Militarizmin Soytarısı Oldu” (Justice Turned into the Jester of Militarism). His trial is set to convene in Istanbul on April 26 at the Supreme Court of Appeals’ 10th Court for Serious Crimes.

Kara faces charges despite the passing of a new amendment to Article 301 that now requires the approval of the Justice Ministry for a case to be launched using the code. The journalist is now also set to face charges in relation to the Anti-Terror Law.

“At every turn, the government says they abolished [Article] 301 and that no obstacles lie [blocking the freedom of] expression and thought. In contrast to this rhetoric, our thoughts and ideas are still tried within the scope of the Anti-Terror [Law] and sent to specially authorized courts. That is quite a contradiction,” Kara said.

Among those previously put on trial under Article 301 are Turkish Nobel Prize Laureate Orhan Pamuk and Hrant Dink, a Turkish journalist of Armenian origin who was murdered on Jan. 19, 2007.