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06 09 30 - Pamuk did not retract his comment about Armenians Kurds
Reuters: From An. Melilkian USA)
Pamuk's lawyer slams Turkish justice minister
Fri Sep 29, 2006 7:26am ET
ANKARA (Reuters) - A lawyer for best-selling novelist Orhan Pamuk chided Turkey's justice minister on Friday for suggesting his client was to blame for the controversy surrounding an article of the penal code blasted by the EU.
The liberal daily Radikal this week quoted Justice Minister Cemil Cicek as saying Pamuk had caused Turkey much trouble by "acting unethically", first confirming and later denying comments attributed to him about Turkish massacres of Armenians.
His comments sparked a case under article 301 that makes it a crime to insult Turkish identity. Though Pamuk was acquitted on a technicality, his trial drew condemnation from rights groups and the European Union as a violation of free speech.
In an open letter published in Friday's Radikal, lawyer Haluk Inanici denied Cicek's suggestion that Pamuk had ever retracted his comment that a million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds had been killed on Turkish territory.
"In saying our client has brought down much trouble on Turkey, is it your wish that people, intellectuals in this society not express their views?" Inanici asked Cicek.
"Is it ethical behavior to avoid a proper discussion of article 301? As justice minister, is it not your duty to prepare a climate for discussion?"
The lawyer accused Cicek of exploiting Pamuk's name for political purposes and to divert attention away from the "anti-democratic and anachronistic" nature of article 301, which the EU and Turkish liberals want to see modified or scrapped.
"It is not ethical to try to belittle our client and hold him responsible for implementation of 301," Inanici said.
Turkey's centre-right government, which began EU entry talks last year, says more time is needed to assess whether it is necessary to change article 301. Cicek, a nationalist-minded conservative, is known to oppose any revision of the article.
Pamuk, author of novels such as "Snow" and "My Name is Red", is one of a large number of writers, journalists and scholars prosecuted under article 301, though none has yet gone to jail.
An Istanbul court last week dismissed a case against leading woman novelist Elif Shafak for comments made by her fictional characters, also on the Armenian issue.
Turkey fiercely denies claims that 1.5 million Armenians perished in World War One in a systematic "genocide" by Ottoman Turkish forces. It says both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in partisan fighting that raged at that time.


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