The Associated PressA Turkish appeals court on Friday overturned a lower court's decision to convict Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink for insulting the country's national identity in a series of articles, and ordered a new trial.
The journalist was convicted in July under a clause in the Turkish penal code that European Union officials say is incompatible with EU norms on freedom of expression. Turkey began EU membership talks in October.
Dink, a Turkish citizen and editor of the bilingual Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, was convicted and given a six-month suspended prison sentence for a series of articles in which he called on Diaspora Armenians to stop focusing on the Turks and funnel attention instead on the welfare of Armenia. Dink said Armenians' enmity toward the Turks "has a poisoning effect in your blood" and insisted the court took the article out of context to mean that Turkish blood is poison.
The appeals court said the conviction was based on "faulty assessments" and ordered a new trial. It was not immediately clear when the new trial would begin.
The lower court in Istanbul had ruled that Dink's article "was not an expression of opinion with the aim of criticizing, but was intended to be insulting and offensive."
Armenians have long demanded that Turkey and other nations recognize the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks at the beginning of the 20th century as genocide. In the past, Turks could be prosecuted for agreeing, and a clause in the new penal code allows prosecutors to interpret statements harmful to Turkish identity as a crime. The EU has asked Turkey to change the clause or risk endangering its EU bid.
Two weeks ago, another court acquitted Dink of separate charges for saying at a human rights conference in 2002 that the Turkish national anthem and national oath was discriminatory. Earlier this month, the government dropped a case against Orhan Pamuk, the country's best-known novelist, for "insulting Turkishness," after Turkey came under harsh criticism from the EU.