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Turkish author Pamuk risks jail time over remarks on Armenian massacres

ISTANBUL — Prominent Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk is set to be tried in December over his controversial remarks about the Armenian massacres and could end up serving three years in jail, his publisher said on Wednesday.

Pamuk, the widely translated author of such internationally renowned works as The White Castle and Snow, triggered a public outcry when he said in an interview with a Swiss newspaper in February that “1 million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it”.

As a result, Pamuk, who earlier this year won the prestigious peace price of the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers, received several death threats and a local official ordered the seizure and destruction of his works.

The reclusive author has since refused to speak to the press at all.

A prosecutor in Istanbul has indicted 53-year-old Pamuk on the grounds that his remarks amounted to public denigration of the Turkish identity and has demanded a prison term of between six months and three years, Iletisim publishing house said in a statement.

The trial is expected to start on December 16, it added.

The massacre of Armenians during World War I is one of the most controversial episodes in Turkish history.

Armenians say that up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in orchestrated killings nine decades ago during the last years of the Ottoman Empire, the precursor of modern Turkey.

Turkey argues that 300,000 Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed in what was civil strife during World War I when the Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers.

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