NaharNet, Lebanon
Jan 3 2014

Turkey Jails Outspoken Armenian Blogger

by Naharnet Newsdesk

A prominent Turkish-Armenian blogger has been sent to jail on charges
of illegal construction amid a growing chorus of criticism over a
graft scandal engulfing the government, local media reported on

Sevan Nisanyan was sentenced in December to two years in prison in a
case he claims was punishment for his outspoken views about
restrictions on freedom of expression in Turkey.

"Unfortunately, this country is ruled by dwarves who have no vision.
We all deserve a better country," the 57-year-old was quoted as saying
by CNN Turk as he headed to prison in the western city of Izmir on

"I do not regret what I have done. I am proud of what I have done."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is grappling with a probe
that has ensnared several allies, some of whom are suspected of
bribery over construction permits for protected areas.

And Nisanyan's jail sentence caused an outcry on Twitter.

"In a country where some people can build a department store on an
ancient city, how come Nisanyan is jailed for building without a
permit?" wrote one user, Yasin Tekin.

Nisanyan also faces up to 16 years in prison on other charges related
to construction work on hotels in a village near Izmir.

Nisanyan was previously convicted of blasphemy over a 2012 blog
defending an anti-Islam film that ridiculed the Prophet Mohammed and
sparked angry protests across the world.

His words touched a nerve in the staunchly secular but majority Muslim
nation and he received hundreds of death threats.

Turkey has long been criticized for a lack of press freedom, and in
December the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists named it the
world's number one jailer of journalists for the second straight year.