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Publisher and writer convicted on charges of "spreading propaganda" for an illegal organisation

(IPA/IFEX) - Geneva, 11 March 2011 - Publisher Ragip Zarakolu, recipient of IPA's 2008 Freedom to Publish Prize, was condemned yesterday by Istanbul's 10th High Criminal Court to pay a TL 16,660 (€ 8,330) fine for publishing N. Mehmet Güler's "KCK File / Global State and Kurds without State". N. Mehmet Guler was also condemned to a suspended 15-month prison sentence. Both Zarakolu and Güler were accused under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law of "spreading propaganda" for an illegal organization, the banned Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The book, which was banned immediately after its release at the Diyarbakir Book Fair in May 2010, remains banned. IPA condemns the convictions and calls for the acquittal of Zarakolu and Guler when appeal time comes.

Jens Bammel, IPA Secretary General, declared: "By convicting publisher Zarakolu, IPA considers Turkey to be in breach of its international commitments under international and European Law, in particular Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, a block Turkey is aspiring to join. IPA therefore calls for publisher Zarakolu, and author N. Mehmet Guler, to be acquitted on appeal. We sincerely regret that Judge Ömer Diken ignored the prosecutor's plea for their acquittal. We also see this plea as a sign of hope."

He added: "The sheer amount of the fine in the present case shows the willingness to deal Belge Publishing (Zarakolu's publishing company), a house which has always dared to produce works which touch on sensitive issues, a fatal blow. This is shameful."

To curb the flow of freedom of expression and freedom to publish trials in Turkey, Turkish legislation (Articles 125, 216, 301 [. . .] TPC, Law 5816, etc.) and practice should be amended to meet international standards, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as Turkey was recently reminded of by its peers when it came under review during the 8th Session of the Universal Periodical Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council on 10 May 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Click here to read the joint submission on Turkey to the UPR Working Group presented by IPA, PEN International and Index on Censorship
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