Home NewsAfrica Turkey silences journalist, other critics for breaking law by ‘insulting the president’ | News24

Turkey silences journalist, other critics for breaking law by ‘insulting the president’ | News24

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President of Turkey and leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

President of Turkey and chief of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Improvement (AK) Get together Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

  • A Turkish journalist is spending her second month
    in detention for “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • Journalist Sedef Kabas, 52, insinuated that Erdogan
    disproved an outdated proverb a couple of topped head usually changing into wiser.
  • She was formally charged and bail requests had been rejected,
    and will probably be tried from 11 March for violating article 299 of Turkey’s penal
    code.

Istanbul – Turkish journalist Sedef Kabas begins
her second month in detention on Tuesday for “insulting the
president”, an more and more frequent offence which observers imagine is
stifling essential voices 16 months earlier than the presidential election.

The 52-year-old has already spent longer in jail
than every other journalist for this alleged offence, in line with the NGO,
Reporters With out Borders (RSF).

Throughout a tv interview on 14 January, Kabas
quoted an outdated proverb affirming {that a} topped head usually turns into wiser,
and added: “however we see it’s not true”.

She repeated the road, deemed to be derogatory to
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his regime, on her Twitter account which has
greater than 900 000 followers.

Three weeks later, Kabas was formally charged. Her
request for bail was rejected and Erdogan, the pinnacle of state, filed a declare for
250 000 Turkish liras (round $18 300) in damages.

She will probably be tried on 11 March and dangers a complete of
12 years and 10 months in jail for insulting the president and two of his
ministers.

Erol Onderoglu, RSF’s consultant in Turkey, mentioned:

This anti-democratic ‘lese-majeste’ regulation has develop into a device of repression which illustrates the authoritarian coverage of the federal government.

Onderoglu believes the offence of insulting the
president – article 299 of the penal code – permits the federal government “to
silence critics and weaken the media”, prompting RSF to name for its
repeal.

Turkey is ranked 153rd in RSF’s world press freedom
index.

In November, the European Court docket of Human Rights
concluded that the imprisonment of one other Turkish journalist for insulting the
president was a violation of his proper to freedom of expression.

‘Respect the workplace’

Erdogan has additionally weighed into the Kabas case,
saying she “won’t go unpunished” and calling for “respect and
safety” of the presidential workplace.

“It has nothing to do with freedom of
expression,” Erdogan insisted.

Following the Kabas remark, eight different arrest
warrants had been issued, together with one towards Olympic swimmer Derya Buyukuncu,
for messages on Twitter making enjoyable of the president’s Covid-19 an infection after
he and his spouse examined constructive.

In 2020, greater than 31 000 individuals had been indicted for
alleged contempt of the president and 36 000 in 2019, in line with official
judicial statistics.

In 2010, that determine stood at simply 4.

Extra generic than the accusation of
“terrorism”, which has been used broadly because the 2016 coup try,
that of “insulting the president” spreads the web even additional, mentioned
Sumbul Kaya, researcher on the Paris Navy Faculty’s Institute for Strategic
Analysis.

She mentioned:

This offence makes it potential to assault extraordinary residents.

With Turkey going by way of an financial disaster, which
is affecting Erdogan’s reputation forward of his bid for re-election in 2023,
Kaya mentioned she is sensing a “discount of energy within the judiciary”.

The offence of “insulting civil servants”
has existed for a very long time, however that of insulting the president was created in
2005 by Erdogan’s AKP get together, which has been in energy since 2002.

“With the instance of the swimmer, President
Erdogan claimed the workplace was below assault, however it was about him as an
particular person,” she mentioned.

“We’re slipping from safety of the workplace
of president in direction of that of the person.”

Critics silenced

For Ahmet Insel, an economist and political
scientist, “the large use of article 299 goals to gag any strongly
essential expression towards the particular person (of the president)”.

Insel mentioned: 

Many journalists and legal professionals are imprisoned below the cost of propaganda of a terrorist organisation, however when it can’t be utilized, as within the case of Sedef Kabas, Erdogan’s legal professionals file a grievance below part 299.

Insel believes the shift is a direct results of the
“very autocratic idea of the workplace of president by Erdogan”, who
in 2018 grew to become head of state, head of presidency and chief of the ruling
get together.

Some observers have pointed on the relative youth
of the Istanbul prosecutor – who graduated in 2018 – who charged Kabas.

“Greater than 4 000 judges and prosecutors have
been dismissed since 2016 and changed by younger legal professionals near the AKP, after
opaque (recruitment) procedures,” mentioned Insel, including that “the orders
come… immediately from the presidential palace”.

Practically 30 worldwide organisations defending
journalists have demanded the rapid launch of Kabas.


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