Turkey to ease curbs on free speech

Nov. 9, 2007 at 12:02 AM

ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- The Turkish government says it will change a controversial law used to prosecute anyone who denigrates Turkish identity.

Article 301 of Turkey's penal code has been a stumbling bloc to the country's efforts to join the European Union, the New Anatolian newspaper said Thursday. Intellectuals and writers, such as Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk, have been prosecuted under the law.

The government's announcement of the change came hours after the EU criticized the law as too strong a curb on free speech.

"It is not acceptable that writers, journalists, academics and other intellectuals ... are prosecuted for simply expressing a critical but completely nonviolent opinion," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said. "The infamous Article 301 must be repealed or amended without delay."

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