Orhan Pamuk Goes On Trial

Given the international attention that Orhan Pamuk’s case had drawn, both in and out of Turkey, I had hoped that the suit would be dismissed before it went to trial. This has not been the case, unfortunately for him (and for freedom of speech in Turkey.) Pamuk, you’ll recall, stands accused of “denigrating Turkish identity” because he dared to speak of the genocide of Armenians by the Turks, in an interview he gave to a Swiss magazine. If found guilty, Pamuk faces up to three years’ imprisonment.

No word yet on the outcome of today’s hearing, but, according to this article, it could still be postponed.

(Update: The BBC reports that the trial has indeed been postponed, due to a legal technicality. The prosecutor sent the case back to the Justice Ministry to decide whether Pamuk should be tried under the old penal code or the new. The next hearing is set for February 7, 2006.)

(Another update: The BBC article states that 60 other writers have been accused under the same law that Pamuk is being tried under. So perhaps a high-profile case like this will actually help get the law repealed.)

Pamuk has received wide support, from individual writers like Jose Saramago and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, from writers’ organizations like PEN, and from government bodies as well (the EU has been pretty vocal). But that has not stopped the Turkish prosecutor from moving forward with the case.

Moorishgirl’s stats file indicates that it has readers in Turkey. If you are one, I’d love to hear from you. What is the local press saying? What are the reactions among your friends?