Dink Acquitted of Insulting Turkish Anthem

ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)–Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was acquitted on Thursday of charges of insulting Turkish national identity under a controversial new law making it a crime to insult Turkey–"Turkishness," or state institutions.

Dink was on trial over remarks he made at a human rights conference held in Urfa four years ago–during which he criticized the national anthem and an oath all elementary school pupils take for containing lines promoting Turkish ethnic nationalism.

Dink–who did not attend the court sessions–said the court "ruled–on request from the prosecutor–that I had not committed the said offense and acquitted me," said Hrant Dink–editor of Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos.

He could have been jailed for up to three years if found guilty.

In October–Dink was convicted of "denigrating Turkish identity," by an Istanbul court over an article he wrote in 2004 about the deaths of Armenia’s during the Genocide of 1915. He received a six-month suspended sentence.

However there is still another case pending against Dink. "Another trial will start March 16 in Istanbul. I am accused of exerting pressure on the Turkish courts," Dink said.

Dink faces charges of attempting to influence the judiciary for saying that he would leave the country if the case against him was not dropped.

Dink told the Anka news agency that it was his right to criticize the earlier verdict–adding that he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if the Court of Appeals upholds the court ruling.

Dink’s case has become one of several prominent prosecutions over freedom of speech that prompted questions about Turkey’s dedication to democracy from officials of the European Union–which Turkey is trying to join.

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