He is hailed as Turkey’s best-known novelist. But today Orhan Pamuk goes on trial accused of insulting national identity.He faces three years behind bars if convicted. The hearing is being seen as a critical test of the country’s commitment to freedom of expression.
It also risks straining ties with the European Union which Turkey hopes to join. At the centre of the controversy is a magazine interview given by the award-winning writer.
In it, he says that a million Armenians were killed in massacres in World War One as well as 30,000 Kurds in recent decades. Ankara rejects accusations of genocide against Armenians.
The case has prompted a warning from European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn. He has said that the hearing puts Turkey itself in the dock.
The EU started membership talks with the country in October.