ANKARA, March 7 -- Yasar Kemal, Turkey's most distinguished writer, was given a suspended 20-month sentence Thursday after being convicted of inciting enmity and encouraging separatism, the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency said. Kemal, 74, appeared in a special State Security Court in Istanbul to face charges arising from two articles he wrote that appeared in a book of essays, 'Freedom of Expression and Turkey.'
The court suspended the prison sentence for five years. The publisher, Erdal Oz, who was convicted on the same charges, was given a suspended fine, the agency said. They were convicted under a section of the penal code barring racism and separatism, but it is mostly used in prosecuting writings and statements about the Kurdish problem in southeastern Turkey, where an extremist minority has been fighting for nearly 12 years to carve out a separate Kurdish state. This was the second time in a year that Kemal has appeared in a state security court. In May, he was charged under Turkey's Prevention of Terrorism Act for an article that appeared the German magazine Der Spiegel, in which he attacked army brutality in the Kurdish southeast. He was acquitted in December, one month after the National Assembly revised the anti-terrorism law.