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Over two years ago, the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was shot dead on the streets of Istanbul as he returned to the offices of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper that he edited, Agos. Dink’s murder was seen as a brutal attack on freedom of expression in Turkey, prompting a wave of grief across Turkey and increasingly vocal criticism of Article 301, which makes it illegal to "denigrate Turkishness."
Today, such questions of freedom of expression are again raised, this time in a courtroom. Nedim Şener, a reporter for Turkish daily Milliyet, stands trial for writing about the circumstances surrounding the murder. If convicted, Şener could face 28 years in prison, eight years more than what the suspect in Dink’s murder would serve if convicted.
"Milliyet daily reporter Nedim Şener’s book "Dink Murder and Intelligence Lies" focused on the intelligence deficiencies by security agencies before and after Dink was shot dead, leading to a police officer and three senior Police Department intelligence chiefs filing complaints against him.
"…Şener said the trial aimed at preventing the public from learning the facts about Dink’s murder and press freedom. He asked the court to find him not guilty. The judge decided to postpone the trial to another date for the defendant’s lawyers to prepare for the prosecutor’s case.
"Milliyet Editor-in-Chief Sedat Ergin told Anatolia news agency his presence at court was to support not only Şener but also press freedom in Turkey. "We are showing this solidarity in order to ensure press freedom in respected," he said. The Turkish Journalists' Association, or TGC, released a statement on the case, seeing it as "worrying" and a problem for democracy."
While it is unknown whether or not Şener will be convicted, the trial alone raises troubling questions over what price one has to pay in Turkey for publishing the truth.