Thursday, January 28, 2010

BBC: Artist fined for art mocking Turkey's prime minister

Michael Dickinson's Good Boy
Mr Dickinson's Good Boy angered some people in Turkey

An English artist has been convicted of mocking Turkey's prime minister by portraying him as a dog in an artwork.

Michael Dickinson, 59, originally from County Durham, now faces jail after refusing to pay a fine imposed by a judge in Istanbul.

"Good Boy" showed Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a dog with a US flag as his lead.

Mr Dickinson said he would not pay the fine as he did not regard what he had done as a crime. Proceedings were adjourned until 9 March.

'Freedom of speech'

The artist, who has lived and worked in Turkey for 20 years, was originally charged in 2006 but was acquitted of the mockery accusation in September 2008.

When this ruling was later quashed and a new trial ordered, Mr Dickinson returned to the north-east of England.

However, he was unable to get a job and went back to Istanbul.

Michael Dickinson outside a Turkish court
Michael Dickinson denied his work was offensive

After Wednesday's hearing, Mr Dickinson said: "I told the judge that if he gave me a fine I would not pay it in protest at the attack on my freedom of speech.

"The judge said he was going to give me a month to think about whether I wanted to pay the fine or face up to two years in a Turkish jail.

"I am still determined not to pay it, so I will be put in prison.

"I won't pay because I don't regard what I have done as a crime.

"I don't want to go to prison but that is the only alternative on offer."