New York, NY, January 28, 2008—Kemal Kerincsiz, the lawyer who tried to prosecute Orhan Pamuk, Hrant Dink, Elif Shafak, and several other writers for “insulting Turkishness,” has been arrested with 32 others following an investigation into a weapons cache discovered in Istanbul last year. That investigation uncovered evidence of active plots to assassinate Pamuk, three politicians, and a prominent journalist and to stage a series of bombings in the coming year, according to reports appearing in the Turkish Press. One source, CNN Turk, has reported that Kerincsiz and twelve others have been charged with inciting people to armed revolt.

Kemal Kerincsiz was behind a number of notorious court proceedings in Turkey in recent years. In May 2005 he filed a complaint that led to the cancellation of an academic conference entitled “The Ottoman Armenians in the Period of the Declining Empire,” and when journalist Hrant Dink received a suspended sentence that same year for “insulting Turkishness,” Kerincsiz appealed seeking a harsher punishment. The trials he initiated often became the settings for ultranationalist demonstrations and intimidation, as when Dink and members of his newspapers staff were physically and verbally attacked at a court hearing in 2006, and Dink, Pamuk, and others hauled into court under Article 301 were the targets of numerous death threats. Hrant Dink was shot dead outside his newspaper’s office on January 19, 2007.

In addition to Kerincsiz and another lawyer, those arrested in the past week include retired military general and other officers, a journalist, and organized crime figures. Many were detained in dawn raids across Turkey last Tuesday. Meanwhile, Turkish lawmakers are reportedly working on a measure to amend Article 301, the insult law under which dozens of writers and journalists have been prosecuted in recent years.

More information:

Larry Siems, (212) 334-1660 ext. 105