Sept 2 2005

A former minister has written to the president of the European
Commission in protest at charges brought against critically acclaimed
Turkish author Orhan Pamuk.

Denis MacShane described the news as a "sickening blow" and has
pledged to attend the trial in December.

Pamuk, whose works include Snow and Istanbul, has reportedly been
charged with insulting his nation after an interview in which he
referred to the controversial issue of deaths of Armenians during
and after the First World War and, more recently, of Kurds.

He could face up to three years in prison.

Dr MacShane, ex Europe Minister and Labour MP for Rotherham, said:
"It is a sickening blow to all pro-Turks in Britain and Europe and to
all who love the tradition of the European novel to hear the news that
the Turkish authorities seek to persecute this great European writer."

Calling on Jose Manuel Barroso to lobby Turkey to drop the charges,
he added: "I will continue to support and argue for the right to
start EU membership talks.

"But if the authorities persist with this attack on a great European
writer then many of us who are strong supporters of Turkey will be
forced to change our minds."

The issue of Turkish admittance to the European Union is due to be
discussed at today's summit in Cardiff.

The UK supports Turkey joining and discussions on membership are due
to start in earnest next month.