Turkey: Court Jails Editor For Insulting President

A Turkish court has handed down a 21-month suspended jail sentence to an editor of a leading English-language Turkish daily newspaper after convicting him of insulting the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Ankara penal court said Bulent Kenes, editor-in-chief, Today’s Zaman, was guilty of insulting Erdoğan in a tweet implying his late mother would have been ashamed of him had she lived to see what he was doing to Turkey.

Erdoğan’s mother Tenzile died in 2011, and the Turkish strongman grieved publicly for his loss. The tweet was posted in July 2014 when Erdoğan was serving his last months as premier just before he won presidential elections in August, the same year.

The case came amid growing concern over the spiralling numbers of journalists, bloggers and ordinary people who are being taken to court on charges of insulting Erdogan and other top officials.

In his defence Kenes argued that he was protected by Turkish law on freedom of speech and also that his tweet had not specifically mentioned Erdogan.

But the court rejected his arguments, handing him a sentence of one year and nine months, state media and Today’s Zaman reported.

In another case that has garnered huge attention, Merve Buyuksarac, model and former Miss Turkey beauty queen went on trial in May on charges of insulting Erdoğan.

Media rights groups, which have long criticised Turkey for locking up journalists, have expressed concerns over a further decline in press freedoms since Erdoğan became president.

Erdoğan caused outrage in the run-up to Turkey’s June 7 elections by saying the secular Cumhuriyet newspaper editor-in-chief, Can Dündar, would “pay a heavy price” over a front-page story which it said proved Turkey had sent arms to rebels in Syria.

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