‘Esteemed Öcalan’ no longer punishable in Turkey

ISTANBUL – In Turkey it is no longer a criminal offence to call PKKleader Öcalan ‘esteemed Öcalan’. That is the result of a verdict of the Supreme Court of Appeals, which acquitted two previously convicted politicians. ‘Esteemed Öcalan’ was considered by the law to be ‘praising a terrorist,’ and many court cases evolved around it. Turkish media reported that on Monday.

The judge based his verdict on earlier rulings by the European Court for Human Rights, and considered it against the constitution to make ‘esteemed’ used in relation to Öcalan punishable. He referred to it as being protected under the freedom of expression law. According to the judge, the same goes for calling PKK fighters ‘guerrillas’ instead of ‘terrorists’.

One of the cases the judge gave a verdict on was that of Kurdish politician Hatip Dicle. He is serving a prison sentence for using ‘esteemed Öcalan’, among other things, and could not take his seat in parliament because of it. Whether he will be set free now and allowed to take his seat in parliament remains unclear.

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