Authorities arrest man for throwing picture of Turkish president on the ground

A man identified only by the initials A.Ç. was arrested yesterday in northern Turkey’s Zonguldak province for throwing a picture of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the ground, the Birgün daily reported.

The photograph had been hanging in the entrance to the district governor’s office.

A.Ç. was detained immediately and appeared in court. It has been claimed that A.Ç. had financial problems and was protesting the country’s deteriorating economy.

Insulting the president is subject to criminal charges under the controversial Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), and thousands of people in the country are under investigation, with most of them facing the threat of imprisonment, over alleged insults of Erdoğan. 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 people who don’t like Erdoğan. The Turkish police and judiciary perceive even the most minor criticism of Erdoğan or his government as an insult.

Freedom of speech is a contested issue in Turkey, where dozens of people are prosecuted every day for expressing their views about the government and its actions as well as issues deemed “taboo” in Turkey.

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