(IPA/WiPC/IFEX) - 10 June 2010 - On trial in Turkey since May 2009, publisher Ragip Zarakolu (Belge) and writer N. Mehmet Güler today were facing a prison sentence of more than seven years for respectively publishing and writing the novel "More Difficult Decisions than Death". While Zarakolu was acquitted, Güler was convicted and sentenced to a prison sentence of 1 year and 3 months. Both Zarakolu and Güler were accused under Article 7/2 of the Anti Terror Law of "spreading propaganda" for the banned Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). Another book by N. Mehmet Güler, "KCK File/Global State and Kurds without State", also published by Belge, is now also accused of "spreading propaganda". Aimed at scholars, academics and journalists, only 1000 copies of the book were published. The book was banned immediately after its release, just like the novel "More Difficult Decisions than Death". N. Mehmet Güler will appeal the sentence. IPA and PEN International call for his acquittal on appeal.
Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, Chair of IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee, declares: "Through convicting N. Mehmet Güler to a prison sentence of 15 months, Turkey is in breach of its international obligations under Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, a block Turkey is aspiring to join. International PEN calls for writer Güler to be acquitted on appeal."
Eugene Schoulgin, International Secretary of PEN International, adds: "In November 2009, the prosecutor did not want to proceed with the case. In March 2010, a new prosecutor reversed that decision and decided to go ahead. It is not only Turkish legislation which needs reform. Practice also needs change and stability. Additionally, it is not only the big names attracting media attention like Elif Shafak or Orhan Pamuk, who need acquittal. The lesser-known names need acquittals too, in those freedom of expression trials. PEN International therefore joins IPA in calling for the acquittal of N. Mehmet Güler on appeal".