4,936 case opened, 1,080 people convicted over ‘insulting Erdoğan’ in 2016 in Turkey

Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

According to Turkey’s Justice Ministry statistics, a total of 4,936 cases were opened in 2016 against people accused of “insulting” Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with courts convicting 1,080 of defendants, Cumhuriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

It was also reported that some 46,193 legal procedures were carried out in cases of “insulting” President Erdoğan in 2016, with the Turkey’s Justice Ministry reportedly allowing 4,936 cases to go ahead.

A total of 4,750 people aged over 18 years old, 36 foreign nationals, and two legal entities were accused of “insulting” Erdoğan. Some 102 people aged between 12 and 15, as well as 138 people aged between 15 and 18, were accused on charges of “crimes against the sovereignty of the state and its bodies.”

The courts acquitted 679 people accused of these charges and suspended the pronouncement of the judgement for 867 others. “Insulting the president” is a crime in Turkey punishable by up to four years in jail.

Meanwhile, Justice Ministry statistics also show that 95 people were convicted on charges of “spying” and “exposing government secrets” in 2016. Out of 3,857 legal proceedings, 807 cases were opened regarding these charges. Of those accused, 139 were foreign nationals and 34 were aged between 12 and 18.

Turkey, which has followed suppressive policies in regard of freedom of expression under the autocratic rule of President Erdoğan in recent years, is also the leading jailer of journalists in the world. The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 263 journalists are now in jails as of June 24, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 239 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 105 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

June 28, 2017


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