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Journalists, publisher charged under Article 301 for "degrading" army, police in articles; president of foundation acquitted

(BIANET/IFEX) - The trial of journalist and editor Umur Hozatli, who is in court for two articles written in the leftist, pro-Kurdish "Ülkede Özgür Gündem" newspaper, continued on 16 May 2007.

Hozatli, former editor-in-chief Irfan Uçar and journalist Sinan Kara are being prosecuted in five cases, all under the controversial Article 301. Awaiting questioning of the newspaper's owner, Hasan Bayar, the case has been postponed until 29 September.

Attending the hearing of his case at a penal court in Istanbul, Hozatli explained that he was being accused of degrading the Turkish Armed Forces and the Turkish Police Force.

He said, "It is my right to criticize a state institution which makes blatant mistakes and which uses double standards in its treatment of citizens, and I will continue to criticize. This is a responsibility of humanity and conscience."

Journalist Uçar is being tried for his article "Number 301" which was published in "Ülkede Özgür Gündem" in 2005. In the article, Uçar had criticised the prosecution of Aram Publications for a book that discusses the disappearance of journalist Nazim Babaoglu.

Meanwhile, journalist Kara is facing court for writing articles titled "Cadre of Killers" and "The Party of the Barracks" in 2006.

In another case, the President of the Father Christmas Foundation, Muammer Karabulut, has been acquitted. He was tried under Article 301 for claiming that the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate was being controlled by the court and by the Regional Directorate of Foundations. A sentence of up to three years' imprisonment had been demanded for him. The Father Christmas Foundation was earlier closed by court order.

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