Turkey Listens to EU, Will Ease Up on Free Speech

Amendment to law is part of bid for EU membership
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2007 7:07 PM CST
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an undated file photo. Ankara pledged to amend a law banning insults to Turkish identity following criticism in the EU's annual report.   (Getty Images (by Event))
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(Newser) – Readying itself for possible EU membership, Turkey's government will soften a law that curbs free speech, the AP reports. An amendment expected to pass parliament will limit penalties for Article 301, which punishes "insulting Turkey or Turkish identity" with up to three years in prison. The announcement came hours after the EU annual report again criticized the law.

The law has been a stumbling block since EU membership talks started in 2005. Many of the nation's intellectuals have been prosecuted under the law, including novelist and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, who criticized Turkey for the mass killing of Armenians nearly a century ago. The EU report also praised economic progress in Turkey but derided the treatment of ethnic minorities, particularly the southeastern Kurds.