MINNEAPOLIS—A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a brought against the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities by a Turkish advocacy group, saying the university was within its rights when it discouraged students from using a Web site that challenges the Armenian Genocide, reported Chronicle.com.
US District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank said in his ruling that the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies was protected by academic freedom when it told students that the Turkish Coalition of America’s Web site was unreliable and rejected TCA’s claims of defamation. Judge Frank held that the center’s assessment of the site was a constitutionally protected academic opinion and not a purported statement of fact that could conceivably be proved false in court, according to Chronicle.com.
“The ability of the university and its faculty to determine the reliability of sources available to students to use in their research falls squarely within the university’s freedom to determine how particular course work shall be taught,” the ruling says. The center’s conclusion that the killing of Armenians during World War I was an act of genocide similarly is a viewpoint “within the purview of the university’s academic freedom to comment on and critique academic views held and expressed by others,” wrote Judge Frank.
“We welcome the Federal District Court decision throwing out the Turkish Coalition of America’s unfounded lawsuit against the University of Minnesota,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
“Today’s ruling, coming, as it does, at the very outset of the Turkish Coalition’s case, clearly underscores that its efforts have little to do with the law. From Massachusetts to California and Minnesota, U.S. courts are refusing to serve as tools of Turkish denial. It is, thankfully, just as clear that – no matter what allies of Ankara spend – the truth about the Armenian Genocide cannot be silenced, nor can our drive for justice for this crime be obstructed.”
TCA’s lawsuit was closely watched by academic circles, with The Middle East Studies Association warning of threats to academic freedom and The International Association of Genocide Scholars and the Society for Armenian Studies siding with the university and discouraging the use of the site.
Notorious Genocide-denier Bruce Fein, the attorney representing the TCA expressed his disappointment in Wednesday’s ruling.