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Turkish publisher faces trial over 'vulgar' French book

Hurriyet Daily News

The publisher and translator of a French book face new charges and a possible 10-year sentence after Turkey's top appeals court overturned their acquittals, saying the book's depiction of "unnatural" sex acts are not protected by freedom of speech.

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Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the acquittal of the publisher and translator of a French book, saying the book’s content failed to fall under freedom of speech protections due to its descriptions of "unnatural" sexual acts.

French author Guillaume Apollinaire’s book, “The Exploits of Young Don Juan” (Les exploits d’un jeune Don Juan), gives detailed accounts of “unnatural sexual intercourse” and offers no “form of a plotline”, according to the court, and therefore was not protected under freedom of speech laws.

Sel Publishing’s owner İrfan Sancı and translator İsmail Yerguz were initially taken to court over the explicit nature of the book following its release, but an Istanbul court granted them an acquittal, describing the book as a work of literature.

The Supreme Court, however, overturned the ruling on the grounds that freedom of speech had to include “a sense of responsibility”, instead demanding that Sancı and Yerguz be tried on charges that carry a possible sentence of between six and 10 years.

“During the exercise of freedoms, one has to act with a sense of responsibility, and such freedoms are subject to limitations that aim to preserve order and protect society’s morals and general health,” the court stated.

The book aims to “exploit and arouse the sexual desires and harm the modesty of  society” and contains “vulgar and simple language”, the court added.

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