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Artist faces jail for Turkish picture
ARTIST Michael Dickinson is to go on trial next week accused of insulting the Turkish Prime Minister's dignity.
The 57-year-old, from Durham, was arrested for displaying a poster of his work entitled Good Boy.
It shows Recep Tayyip Erdogan - the Turkish Prime Minister - as a dog on a leash made from the American flag.
Mr Dickinson has already spent ten days in custody after he unveiled the collage outside a court in Istanbul last September.
Now he is facing up to three years in a Turkish prison if he is found guilty next Monday.
Mr Dickinson said: "I do not want to go to prison but I am not apologising.
"One should be able to express himself artistically without fear of imprisonment."
The charge relates to an incident in which Mr Dickinson showed the poster after a court hearing.
He had just been told by Turkish prosecutors that there was no case against him for previously displaying a different satirical collage during an art exhibition.
His work, Best In Show, depicted the Turkish Prime Minister as a dog being awarded a rosette by President Bush in a pet show.
Mr Dickinson, who has lived in Turkey for over 20 years, is the co-founder is the founder of the Istanbul branch of the Stuckist art movement, and also a writer, playwright and actor.
He was held in police custody for ten days before he was ordered to leave the country.
Mr Dickinson is still living in Turkey on a tourist visa.
Charles Thompson, co-founder of the Stuckist movement, has written to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown asking for his intervention.
He said: "This kind of satire is of course commonplace commentary in this country, and it is intolerable that a country applying for EU membership should censor freedom of political comment in this way. "
A spokesman for the British Government said the Foreign Office was aware of the case.
He said: "We have offered consulate assistance to Mr Dickinson in the past. We haven't had any contact since November 2006 but we stand ready to provide consulate assistance if requested again."
A spokesman for the Turkish Embassy in London was last night unable to comment.