Middle East

Turkey jails vocal Armenian blogger

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a joint news conference with his Libyan counterpart Ali Zeidan (not pictured) in Istanbul January 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Murad Sezer)

ISTANBUL: A prominent Turkish-Armenian blogger has been sent to jail on charges of illegal construction amid a graft scandal engulfing the government, local media reported Friday. Sevan Nisanyan was sentenced in December to two years in prison in a case he claims was punishment for his outspoken views about restrictions on freedom of expression.

“Unfortunately, this country is ruled by dwarves who have no vision. We all deserve a better country,” the 57-year-old was quoted as saying by CNN Turk as he headed to prison in the city of Izmir Thursday. “I do not regret what I have done. I am proud of what I have done.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is grappling with a probe that has ensnared several allies, some of whom are suspected of bribery over construction permits for protected areas.

And Nisanyan’s jail sentence caused an outcry on Twitter.

“In a country where some people can build a department store on an ancient city, how come Nisanyan is jailed for building without a permit?” wrote one user, Yasin Tekin.

Nisanyan also faces up to 16 years in prison on other charges related to construction work on hotels in a village near Izmir.

Nisanyan was previously convicted of blasphemy over a 2012 blog defending an anti-Islam film that ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad and sparked angry protests across the world.

His words touched a nerve in the staunchly secular but majority Muslim nation and he received hundreds of death threats.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 04, 2014, on page 12.




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