80-year-old Turkish actress faces 8 years in prison on Erdoğan insult charges: report

An 80-year-old Turkish actress is facing more than eight years in prison on charges of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for several years on social media, Turkish Minute reported.

Nilüfer Aydan appeared at her first hearing before an İstanbul court on Tuesday. The actress told the judges that she suffered from high blood pressure and would not be able to present her defense.

According to the indictment Aydan’s social media messages from the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 include insults against the president.

Thousands of people in Turkey are under investigation, and most of them are under the threat of imprisonment, over alleged insults of President Erdoğan. The insult cases generally stem from social media posts shared by Erdoğan opponents. The Turkish police and judiciary perceive even the most minor criticism of Erdoğan or his government as an insult.

According to a report by the Birgün daily the number of people investigated for insulting President Erdoğan is increasing every year, with 36,066 people facing criminal investigations in 2019.

Since Erdoğan assumed the presidential office in 2014, thousands of people have received prison sentences for insulting him — 2,046 in 2018 and 3,831 in 2019. Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) states that any person who insults the president of the republic faces a prison term of up to four years. This sentence can be increased by a sixth if it has national exposure, and by a third if committed by the press or media. In total 9,554 people have received sentences for insulting the president.

According to human rights lawyer Kerem Altıparmak, more than 100,000 Turkish citizens have been investigated for insulting President Erdoğan and in excess of 30,000 court cases were opened. Altıparmak says Article 299 of the TCK on insulting the president runs against the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is a party, and should be annulled.

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