Turkish prosecutors drop new lawsuit against novelist Pamuk

Turkish prosecutors dropped their lawsuit against novelist Orhan Pamuk for allegedly insulting Turkey's armed forces, but the writer still faces charges that he insulted "Turkishness," said lawyers who asked for his trial. Nationalist lawyers had petitioned prosecutors to file criminal charges against Pamuk for reportedly telling a German newspaper, Die Welt, in October this year that the military threatened and prevented democratization in Turkey.

European officials have criticized Turkey for putting Pamuk on trial and have called on the country to do more to protect freedom of expression. Prosecutors on Thursday decided there were no grounds to try Pamuk for insulting the military, said nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz, who had petitioned the prosecutors asking for Pamuk's trial.

Kerincsiz said he would appeal the decision on Friday. "It is of course not possible for the prosecutors to make a sound decision under so much pressure," said Kerincsiz. "We've come to the point where we're no longer able to protect our national values. Where will it all end?" Kerincsiz said the army was portrayed as the enemy of democracy, calling it a "grave insult."

Pamuk reportedly told Die Welt: "I don't see the (ruling Islamic-rooted) Justice and Development Party as a threat to Turkish democracy. Unfortunately, the threat comes from the army which sometimes prevents democratic development." The novelist still faces charges under a law which makes insulting Turkey a crime for having told a Swiss newspaper in February that "30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it."

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul acknowledged that charges brought against Pamuk had tarnished the country's image and said laws that limit freedom of expression may be changed. It was the first time the government indicated it could amend laws making it a crime to insult Turkey. The country has been under intense pressure from the EU to drop other charges against Pamuk.

But the government would rather wait and see the outcome of charges brought against Pamuk and dozens of other people before moving to amend them, Gul said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also assured that laws could be changed if there are serious flaws. "We should not hurry. This is a new law, let's see how it works, what the outcomes are," Erdogan said. "If there are serious problems, then of course the legislative will sit down, make a new assessment and take a new decision", reports the AP. N.U.

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