Publisher Is Charged With Criticizing Turkey

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A Turkish book publisher said Friday that the government was suing it for distributing a translated book that the government charges is critical of the Turkish identity, army and state and the founder of the republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The publisher, Fatih Tas, the owner of Aram Publishing, could face three years in jail for issuing the book, "Spoils of War: The Human Cost of America's Arms Trade" by John Tirman, which focuses on military sales to Turkey. It was published in the United States in 1997.

Prosecutors contend that the book humiliates Turkish institutions by including the testimony of people who said they were subjected to human rights violations by the security forces during fighting with Kurdish rebels in the 1990's. Prosecutors also took offense at the book for saying the founder of modern Turkey adopted a nationalism that was "a version of fascism."

The case against Mr. Tas came as a surprise, though he has been sued many times in the past. Turkey recently changed its penal code to favor further freedom of expression in order to qualify for membership in the European Union. But the law still makes it a crime to insult the Turkish identity, the government or Ataturk. Suits still crop up that touch on issues like Kurdish rights or unity of the state, topics that remain sensitive in the eyes of the judiciary.

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