Christians in Turkey Acquitted of 'Insulting Turkishness'

Sunday, October 24, 2010

By Joseph C. DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Worthy News)-- After a lengthy legal battle, a Turkish judge acquitted two Christians of insulting Turkey and its people by spreading Christianity, but not without imposing a heavy fine for another unrelated charge.

Turan Topal, 50, and Hakan Tastan, 41, were faslely accused of spreading their faith and "insulting Turkishness, the military and Islam."

At Silivri court, Judge Hayrettin Sevim acquitted both defendants on charges they had insulted the Turkish state (Article 301) and its people (Article 216) by spreading Christianity on a lack of evidence.

However, Sevim found them guilty of collecting information on citizens without permission (Article 135) and sentenced them to seven months imprisonment, or a $3,170 (US) fine.

"For both Turan and me," said Tastan by telephone, "being found innocent from the accusation that we insulted the Turkish people was the most important thing for us, because we've always said we're proud to be Turks, but it is unjust that they are sentencing us for collecting people's information."

At the time of their arrest, both men and had posted contact information from individuals interested in Christianity to the The Bible Research Center's website; their lawyer said they will appeal the decision of the court after they see the official statement.

"We are free from the charges that we have insulted the Turkish state and the people of Turkey and we're glad for that," said Tastan, "but we are sorry about the court's sentence. We're happy on one hand, and sorry on the other."