ISTANBUL (Reuters)–A US author appeared in a Turkish court on Wednesday to defend a publisher on trial for printing his book examining the plight of the region’s Kurds. The appearance of veteran journalist Jonathan Randal at the state security court in Istanbul highlights a continuing battle against strict restrictions on freedom of expression in EU membership candidate Turkey.
Publisher Abdullah Keskin faces years in jail on charges of undermining Turkey’s unity by publishing the Turkish version of Randal’s book "After Such Knowledge–What Forgiveness? – My Encounters With Kurdistan."
The same Istanbul court in February acquitted another publisher on similar charges after the book’s author–US academic Noam Chomsky–appeared at the trial.
Randal told Reuters in a telephone interview he believed the verdict would eventually go in Keskin’s favor.
"Everything I heard today leads me to believe there will be a happy end to this trial," he said. "At a time when Turkey is seeking membership of the European Union–it is unacceptable that books be banned and publishers put on trial."
The presiding judge delayed the trial on Wednesday after the defense requested Randal appear as a witness.
The judge said the court would reconvene on June 7.
Randal’s book is available in several other countries in the Arabic–Persian and Kurdish languages.