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Turkey19 August 2007

Newspaper editor held for referring to “northern Kurdistan”

Reporters Without Borders called today for the immediately release of Yasin Yetisgen, the owner and editor of the Kurdish newspaper Coban Atesi, who was detained by a police court on 14 August in Gaziantep (in southeastern Anatolia) for publishing an article that said Gaziantep was located in “northern Kurdistan.”

“As the crime of ‘separatist propaganda’ in article 8 of the anti-terrorism law was repealed in July 2003, it seems utterly archaic to detain Yetisgen before prosecuting him on a charge of ‘attacking the country’s integrity and the state’s unity’,” the press freedom organisation said.

The offending article appeared in the 2 August issue of Coban Atesi, a local newspaper. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of the article’s author, Hursit Kasikkirmaz, who lives abroad. Yetisgen’s lawyer has filed an appeal against his detention.

The European Court of Human Rights condemned Turkey in 2004 for convicting publisher Ayse Nur Zarakolu for publishing a book about the murder of journalist Ferhat Tepe. The court ruled that the use of the term “Kurdistan” could not in itself be grounds for restricting free expression.

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