ISTANBUL, Turkey - A journalist who faced constant threats and legal proceedings as one of the most prominent voices of Turkey's shrinking Armenian community was shot to death yesterday at the entrance to his newspaper's offices, police said.

Hrant Dink, 53, a Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, had gone on trial numerous times for speaking out about the mass killings of Armenians by Turks at the beginning of the 20th century. He had also received threats from nationalists, who viewed him as a traitor.

Dink, who edited the bilingual Turkish Armenian newspaper Agos, said in his last column Jan. 10 that he had become famous as an enemy of Turks and had received no protection from authorities despite his numerous complaints about the threats against him.

"My computer's memory is loaded with sentences full of hatred and threats," Dink wrote. "I am just like a pigeon.. . . I look around to my left and right, in front and behind me as much as it does. My head is just as active."

He ended the column by predicting that this would be a difficult year but that he would survive it.

Dink's killing drew condemnation from Europe, Armenia, the United States, and numerous media-freedom and human-rights organizations. Thousands of Turks marched down the street where he died, blocking traffic and carrying posters bearing his photo.

In October 2005, Dink was convicted of trying to influence the judiciary after Agos ran stories criticizing a law making it a crime to insult Turkey, its government, or the Turkish national character. He was given a six-month suspended sentence.

The conviction was rare even in a country where trials of journalists, academics and writers have become common. Most of the cases, including that of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, were either dropped on a technicality or led to acquittals.

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turkreporter

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