Europe court rules against Turkey in book dispute

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Turkey was punished by the European Court of Human Rights because of the seizure of a book about a pop star that discussed his sexual orientation, the court said on Tuesday.

"Tarkan - Anatomy of a Star" was first published in 2001 in Istanbul by Ozcan Sapan, a 50-year-old editor. The first part of the book discussed the phenomenon of stardom, the second part focused on Tarkan, a hugely popular singer. It also contained photographs.

Unhappy with several passages which alluded to his sexual orientation and his effeminate style, Tarkan took the publisher to court and obtained a seizure of the book. The court gave no explanation for its verdict.

The publisher challenged the decision, and in 2004 obtained a lifting of the seizure on the grounds that the disputed passages, which were drawn from sociological research, were not aimed at undermining the singer.

But in 2005 Turkey's Court of Cassation, its highest court, upheld the ban, saying the book addressed "matters related to the privacy of Tarkan rather than his artistic personality".

In its ruling, the European Court of Human Rights said the book, through scientific methods, used Tarkan to address the social phenomenon of stardom and could not be compared to the tabloid press and gossip columns, whose role was to satisfy curiosity about the details of celebrities' private lives.

The court noted that all the pictures used in the book were ones which Tarkan had posed for, and which had been published elsewhere.

The court unanimously ruled that Turkey had violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and ordered Sapan to be paid 2,000 euros (2,388 dollars) in compensation.

© 2010 AFP

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