Gul defends Turkey's free speech record

Oct. 3, 2007 at 7:06 PM

STRASBOURG, France, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- President Abdullah Gul told the Council of Europe Wednesday no one is in prison in Turkey for controversial speech.

But he conceded Article 301, the law allowing writers and others to be charged with insulting Turkey, is a stumbling block in the country’s bid to join the European Union, the BBC reported. Some of the country’s leading writers, including Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, have been charged or threatened with prosecution.

"Even though nobody has been jailed under this article, I would like to see it changed," Gul said. "Parliament is now open, and I predict some regulations could be made in connection with this issue."

Gul defended Turkey’s record on human rights. “Nobody is in prison today for expressing their ideas," he said.

The law has been used most frequently recently against writers who say the killing of thousands of Armenians in 1915 was genocide.

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