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Writer sentenced for allegedly "insulting the state security forces" in newspaper article

(BIANET/IFEX) - On 27 September 2007, a penal court in Istanbul decreed that writer and film director Umur Hozatli had "insulted the state security forces in the press" (Article 301/2 of the Turkish Penal Code) and sentenced him to a six-month imprisonment term. This was then reduced to five months, and the sentence was converted to a 20 YTL fine per day, which results in a total of 3,000 YTL (approx. 1,770 euros).

In an article entitled "Irritating Men", written for the newspaper "Ülkede Özgür Gündem", Hozatli criticised the police and the judiciary system. The article was published on 11 November 2006.

"Because I love my country (. . . )" Hozatli said in his defence in court, "my aim was not to insult the police force and the judiciary. The article was written in order to criticise the mistakes I have seen in the police force and the judiciary. I love my country, and because I love it, I have to criticise the mistakes I see."

The prosecutor quoted the following sentences from the article and argued that they demanded punishment: "members of the Turkish police force are famous for not working with a police mentality, but for trying to spread fear for their personal benefit, regardless of whether people are innocent or guilty."

"The men are bored, so they collaborate with like-minded prosecutors and judges in identifying people and groups whose ideologies with which they disagree - people they find irritating - and arrest them, putting them away as terrorists, separatists and destructive people. The Turkish police, together with prosecutors and judges, are working as an organisation which creates terrorists."

Hozatli argued in his article that a survey of public opinion or casual observation would reveal that most people complained about the police and did not trust them. He added that after the raids on dissident media organisations, such as the "Atilim" newspaper and Özgür Radio, employees of these organisations were held on trumped-up charges.

Hozatli appealed against his sentence on 2 October.

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