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Turkey Opens Case Against Reporter

June 11, 1999

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ A Turkish court has begun hearings against an American journalist accused of insulting the army, a charge punishable by up to six years in prison.

Andrew Finkel, a freelance journalist who has reported for Time magazine, The Times, of London, and CNN appeared before the court Thursday. The trial was adjourned until Nov. 16.

The charges stem from a 1998 article Finkel wrote in which prosecutors said he appeared to be comparing the Turkish army to an ``occupying army″ in predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey, where the military is battling Kurdish rebels.

``The passages which were deemed to be insulting had been taken out of context,″ Finkel said in a statement he released Friday. ``In context they meant the diametric opposite of that suggested by the indictment.″

The article for the Turkish daily Sabah was written after Finkel joined a tour hosted by the military to the southeastern town of Sirnak, the scene of heavy fighting between the army and the guerrillas.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based media watchdog, said the indictment ``violates the fundamental norms for free expression as guaranteed under international law.″

Dozens of Turkish journalists, writers and intellectuals have been jailed for reporting or expressing opinions on the Kurdish conflict that were deemed to be hostile to the state.

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