An Istanbul court has indicted Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink for "denigrating the Turkish national identity" by calling the 1915-17 massacres of Armenians a "genocide", his lawyer said on Monday.
Dink received a suspended three-month jail sentence in October for an article about the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, which many countries recognize as genocide. An appeal was rejected in July. The European Union condemned Dink's conviction at that point, and the journalist "granted an interview to a foreign news agency on the 1915 events, in which he employed certain words," as his lawyer put it, speaking to AFP.
If convicted again, the journalist will have to serve his original sentence plus a possible three more years. His lawyer Fethiye Cetin said the new proceedings had been sparked when Agos, the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly that Dink edits, reprinted excerpts from the July interview.
In the interview, Dink says of the World War I killings of Armenians: "Of course I say this is a genocide, because the result itself identifies what it is and gives it a name. You can see that a people who have been living on these lands for four thousand years have disappeared. This is self-explanatory."
Ankara refuses to apply the term genocide to the events. Earlier this month it rejected a European Union report saying that it should do so as a condition for joining the bloc. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted last week that Article 301 of the Turkish penal code -- which is the legal basis for Dink's indictment and for most proceedings against intellectuals who speak out about the Armenian question -- could be amended.
The EU has repeatedly warned Ankara that the prosecution of intellectuals for exercising their right to free speech is damaging Turkey's membership bid.