44,675 investigated for insulting Turkish president since 2014: opposition MP

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a statement after chairing the cabinet meeting in Ankara, on December 14, 2020. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

A total of 44,675 investigations have been launched by Turkish prosecutors into individuals on allegations of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since his election as the country’s 12th president in 2014, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Özgür Özel said on Friday.

Turkish prosecutors initiated investigations into 848 people for insulting 11th Turkish President Abdullah Gül and 207 for insulting eighth President Turgut Özal, the opposition lawmaker said in a speech in the Turkish parliament.

The Turkish police and judiciary have perceived even the most minor criticism of the president or his government as an insult in the last decade.

Thousands of people in Turkey are currently under investigation, and most of them are under the threat of imprisonment over alleged insults of Erdoğan.

Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey, according to the controversial Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Whoever insults the president can face up to four years in prison, a sentence that can be increased if the crime was committed through the mass media.

The insult cases generally stem from social media posts shared by Erdoğan opponents.

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