MINISTERS TO REVIEW CONTROVERSIAL ARTICLE ON INSULTING TURKISH IDENTITY

NTV MSNBC
Jan 7 2008
Turkey

The European Union has cited Article 301 as an obstacle to free speech
and to Turkey's becoming a member of the bloc.

ANKARA - The Turkish cabinet is to review draft amendments to a
controversial article of the Turkish Penal Code that critics say
limits freedom of expression.

On Monday, Turkish Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said he would
be submitting a bill amending Article 301 of the penal code to the
cabinet, which is expected to meet later in the same day.

Article 301 covers the crime of "insulting Turkishness" or denigrating
the Turkish identity. It has been used to prosecute some of Turkey's
leading journalists and authors, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan
Pamuk, and Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was murdered
in January last year.

Though refusing to give details of the amendments to the legislation,
Sahin said he believed there could be a provision in the draft law
requiring the authorisation of the Justice Ministry for a prosecution
to be opened under Article 301.

Sahin said that, if approved by the cabinet, the amendments to the
law could be tabled before the Turkish parliament before the end of
the week.