Orhan Pamuk blir trolig frikjent. Han er for berømt til å bli dømt. Men det må ikke forlede noen til å tro at Tyrkia tar til vettet, bare utlandet sier tydelig fra. Et stort antall journalister og forfattere blir hvert år dømt for å ha brukt ytringsfriheten.

Det er i det hele tatt vanskelig å forstå at EU kunne godta Tyrkia som kandidatland, når slik undertrykkelse av ytringsfriheten får pågå.

En liten detalj: sivilt politi bisto ultranasjonalistene som gikk bererk under rettsmøtet til Orhan Pamuk fredag, skrev Ian Traynor i Guardian.

The Pamuk case is just one of many ongoing criminal prosecutions of publishers, writers, historians, journalists and university academics. Sixteen journalists were put on trial in the first nine months of this year, with 12 of them being found guilty, according to the independent watchdog Independent Communications Network. Another source, The Publishers Association, says that in the 18 months until this summer 37 authors were tried for criminal offences in connection with the publication of 47 books. And that is not counting the number of civil suits targeting journalists.

A raft of other regulations make it possible for Turkey to muzzle, fine and pressure the publishing industry, newspapers and television stations for stepping out of line. Censorship flourishes, too, through requirements that manuscripts be submitted to state authorities for approval and special licensing arrangements that oblige the books industry to get official stamps before a book can be published.

«Very recently there appears to have been an increase in old prohibitory tendencies,» said a recent report from the Publishers Association. «Positive steps taken forward with respect to freedom of thought and expression have started moving backwards.»

The author of the report, Ragib Zarakolu, has been prosecuted many times and is currently on trial.

Statsminister Recep Tayyep Erdogan liker å fremheve Tyrkias fremskritt på menneskerettsområdet, men hvor dypt stikker det? Erdogan har personlig anlagt sak mot karikaturtegnere. Ytringsfriheten må tilpasses hans definisjon:

the prime minister is a zealous litigant on matters of free speech.

This year he has issued several lawsuits, including recently taking two cartoonists to court for depicting his facial features on a horse and a cat. In one case Mr Erdogan was awarded some £4,000 in damages, although the appeal court rescinded the award.

Erol Onderoglu, who monitors freedom of expression for the watchdog Independent Communications Network, said none of the 12 journalists found guilty of criminal offences have been jailed, suggesting that the government and the judiciary are keen to control public opinion, but reluctant to attract negative publicity, especially abroad, by throwing dissidents in jail.

«Jailing is no longer recommended because we’re at the gates of the EU,» says Mr Kurkcu.

Forholdene kan ikke sammenlignes med slik de var på 90-tallet, da kidnappinger, tortur og forsvinninger hørte til dagens orden. Men likevel er det noen som mener å registrere en forverring:

For books as with newspapers, the trend is for acquittals or avoiding jail terms. But the impact on writers, historians, and journalists is to discourage free speech.

«I prefer outright censorship to self-censorship,» says Nadire Mater, a writer and activist acquitted in 2001 after a two-year trial resulting from her book Voices From the Front, which consisted of transcripts of interviews with Turkish soldiers taking part in the Kurdish campaign.

«Surprisingly things are getting worse,» she says. «They don’t put people in prison any more. But they bring all these cases to pressure us, to terrorise us and produce self-censorship. Look at the Pamuk case. The message is, if they can put Orhan Pamuk on trial, I should steer clear of this stuff, not touch it.»

‘Terrorised’ writers lament state’s assault on free speech