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Court acquits fifth journalist who criticised conference ban

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has hailed an Istanbul court's decision on 8 June 2006 to acquit Murat Belge, a columnist with the daily "Radikal", of criticising a judicial ban on a conference about the Armenian genocide, for which he had faced a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

"Belge's acquittal is good news for press freedom in Turkey," the organisation said. "The judges recognised that his criticism of the judicial authorities was not a crime. As a result, he has avoided an extremely severe sentence that would have been a disgrace."

The court dismissed all the charges against Belge, who criticised the ban in two articles in September 2005. Similar charges against four other journalists were dropped in April.

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