Monday, December 8, 2008

Thoughts on Oktar and lawyers

Adnan Oktar's lawyer (well, so they claim) has been in touch about my blog. Oktar has succeeded in getting many websites shut down in Turkey, including Richard Dawkins', and also news reports, etc. The entire www.wordpress.com blog system is now blocked in Turkey as a result of Oktar's legal actions.

So now Oktar moves onto my minor blog and asks that where I quote allegations made from the Turkish Daily News and a couple of blogs, I remove the quotations, as the original sources have since been blocked by court order in Turkey. Currently, I am showing the entire Daily News report which the newspaper itself has had to remove.

I asked whether the request was backed by any kind of legal threat and got this rather baffling response in which no threat is issued but there are repeated references to secret masonic conspiracies, as well as satanism, etc. Not really a standard lawyer's letter. I am guessing it is not actually from a lawyer.

So, what should I do? Obviously I'll continue to state that Oktar is a fool, his scientific theories are ridiculous and that Dawkins hilariously reveals just what a nincompoop he is here (indeed, Oktar is a nincompoop even by creationist standards).

Oktar has been found guilty and sentenced to 3 years for "creating an illegal organization for personal gain" (he is out on appeal). On the other hand, is it possible that Oktar has been the victim of smears? Yes, it is. The other allegations also made against him may not all be true. Clearly, his "lawyer" is paranoid to the point of hilarity about sinister masonic conspiracies etc. Yet Oktar really does appear to have powerful, organized enemies in Turkey (as the banned news report even-handedly states). When it comes to the very specific allegations regarding, shall we say, "unsavoury" cult activity, notice that Dawkins and others don't mention them, and indeed they might not be true.

Now a Turkish court has got the websites I quoted from blocked pending legal matters. And these courts are clearly not entirely in Adnan's pocket, because he failed to get The God Delusion banned in Turkey. If a UK court blocked a website on the grounds it contained potentially defamatory allegations, I'd respect that and wouldn't repeat those allegations (not even as quotes) until the matter was settled.

So, though it really galls me to have to admit it, it might be that the fair thing to do is remove the quoted passages. It may be that the allegations I quote are true, but obviously there are some doubts about them (which is why I only reported them, and did not make them myself). So I am removing those specific bits.

So, to repeat - I am removing the bits repeating very specific allegations which are (i) not proven (and so cannot legally be made in Turkey), (ii) open to question, and (iii) would indeed qualify as defamation if untrue. But of course I am retaining, and will be adding to, the stuff that I'm confident is true. Such as that Oktar is a fool and, indeed, a bully in the way he has attempted to silence others...

The irritating thing is that I'll now be thought to have "caved in" - which is a bugger. But it's better that the solid criticism of this bizarre convicted nutcase not be tainted by them being mixed in with allegations that are questionable. Better not to give him the opportunity to claim, correctly, that he has, indeed, been defamed.

N.B. It would make me happy if my website were still banned in Turkey, even after these changes. I just don't want to run any risk of it being justifiably banned in Turkey.

[Post script: Presumably, however, the following passage from the Daily News report [which I'll leave up for today], which simply presents part of a BAV (Oktar's own organization) statement made in defence of Oktar, can't be defamatory:

# It is slander to say that there were cassettes to be used for blackmail. After inspection, it will be shown that the video cassettes and computer disks do not contain any compromising material.
# The claims about sex parties are also slanderous. The female members of the foundation are such virtuous and honorable women that such immoral actions could have no connection with reality.
# The statement denies the claims related to cocaine as well, indicating that Adnan Hoca instilled patriotism and moral values in many young people. The cocaine reportedly found in Adnan Hoca's blood in 1991 was given to him through food and drink while in custody.


I'll check.]

14 comments:

James F. Elliott said...

You should contact Oliver Kamm. He's had to deal with similar twaddle. Given that Oktar's lawyer is located in Turkey, and Turkey is not yet a member of the EU, I don't think you have any legal consequences to worry about. I'm not a lawyer, much less an English one, so certainly do your own research and contact an attorney. That said, unless your moral intuition leads you to this step, I don't think it's necessary.

James F. Elliott said...

Also, since your blog is a written format, any allegations of defamation must be for libel, not slander. Slander is spoken. Here endeth the grammar fascism.

Stephen Law said...

yes, that is true - libel. You'd think a lawyer would know that, right?

Stephen Law said...

I'm not seriously concerned about legal consequences - at least not now. It's pretty clear, I think, that this email did not even come from a real lawyer.

However, there is an issue about mixing up good criticisms with dubious ones, and also repeating (if not making) dubious allegations, that is worth taking seriously, I guess.

But maybe I'm giving this for more attention than it deserves.

James F. Elliott said...

I'd say you are indeed. But I really think the only issue here is your own moral intuition. Oktar and his "lawyer" can sit on their thumbs and spin.

If this "lawyer" is indeed a professional advocate, I propose a new form of epithet for lawyers: "Waaaahmbulance chaser."

wombat said...

Why do you believe this email to be genuinely from Oktar's lawyer?

Now if it were addressed from the ex-Finance Minister of Nigeria...

Stephen Law said...

Actually, I don't think it is from a genuine lawyer. I think it's probably from the Sedal chap that invited me to interview Oktar originally...it's his style. I think he, or someone else under Oktar, uses this name as a pseudonym. It crops up on Dawkins' website, I notice. But the name fails to show up any real lawyers on google, etc.

Also, real lawyers don't usually bang on about masonic/satanist conspiracies!

wombat said...

"Also, real lawyers don't usually bang on about masonic/satanist conspiracies!"

I guess there isn't much call for that owing to the infrequency of witchcraft trials in the West. Back to Nigeria again I suppose.

anticant said...

The moral of this is that sane people should strive all we can to ensure that Turkey - or any other primarily Islamic country -is NEVER admitted into the European Union. That way, enhanced lunacy and legal chaos lies....

scenick said...

The indictment of the SRF case which was initiated at the 1st State Security Court (DGM) with the allegation of “forming a crime ring acting for material gain” that violated Law No. 4422 consists of quotations from fabricated statements signed at the police security under torture. The SRF case was examined by 7 different court chambers and not even one evidence or document was found to prove the allegations in the indictment. On the contrary, there exist hundreds of documents, expert reports, jurisdictions, testimonies and scientific legal opinions that prove the innocence of, and evidence the white hands of the BAV community. In addition to this, the joint opinion of the 7 different courts which have examined our case is that there is no element of crime that may be considered within the stipulations of Law No. 4422 in the court case.

The SRF case which started in year 2000 was dismissed on 24.11.2005 due to the statute of limitations; however the same allegations were continued in a parallel court case based on the same principle cause for the 6 defendants who were not included within the scope of the statute of limitations. The court chamber examined the entire documentation in the case file and ruled a verdict that would clear all defendants in the SRF case from all accusations, and in this respect this case for the 6 defendants were concluded with a decision of acquittal on 22.01.2007. This decision by the 2nd High Criminal Court is an apparent evidence of the innocence of the SRF members. There are no complainants that have been able to present any concrete allegations in the case file, neither are there any evidence of a crime disfavoring the defendants, nor any testimonies that are in opposition. In summary, the case file is totally empty in terms of any evidence of a crime.

rendor said...

http://www.bav-savunma.org/english/options.html

check this page about the legal opinions on Oktar case. Interesting. Seems like the guy has an army o lawyers

ralph said...

Like it or not, as new scientist called him, he is an international hero now.

kenny said...

this suave guy makes me sick. My girlfriend thinks he's hot.

Stephen Law said...

Interesting website rendor. It appears to have been set up to publicize legal opinion (no doubt paid for by Oktar) about Oktar, from paid commentators. If you read the opinion, it hardly exonerates Oktar, in fact.

I have no doubt that Oktar has on occasion been treated badly, and may well have been the victim of false charges. That doesn't mean many aren't justified, of course.

Ralph - New Scientist never said that.