AFP, Associated Press
An Armenian-Turkish newspaper editor entered an Istanbul court Tuesday to shouts of "traitor," beginning the latest of his many legal battles.
Prosecutors have charged that Hrant Dink, a Turkish citizen, committed the crime of "attempting to influence the judiciary" when his bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper ran articles criticizing a law that makes it a crime to "insult Turkishness."
The law has been used to try writers and intellectuals, including Dink and the novelist Orhan Pamuk, for commenting on the mass killings of Armenians by Turks around the time of World War I. Three other writers at the Agos newspaper, including Dink's son, also went on trial Tuesday.
Turkey has been struggling to balance European Union demands for tolerance of free expression with a reluctance to discuss the mass killings of Armenians, which a number of governments and scholars have said were the first genocide of the 20th century. The subject is rarely discussed openly in Turkey, and those who say Turks were guilty of genocide can end up in a Turkish court and be branded as traitors.
Internationally, Turkey has been struggling to fight recognition by other countries with a combination of political and economic threats. In the past week, Turkey has lobbied French politicians and companies to help kill a proposed French bill that would make it a crime to deny that Armenians were victims of genocide, in the same way that denying the Holocaust is a crime in France.
The French parliament is expected to vote on the bill on Thursday. Turkey also briefly recalled its ambassadors to both France and Canada last week after developments in those countries related to the genocide issue, and pulled out of a Canadian military exercise because Canada's prime minister said he supported a parliamentary declaration stating that Armenians were victims of genocide.
Prosecutors have asked the court to sentence Dink to a jail term of up to three years. In addition to the trial for attempting to influence the judiciary, Dink has also been tried previously for "insulting Turkishness" and for saying the Turkish national anthem was discriminatory.