Erdogan sues German comedian Bohmermann in Ankara over satirical poem

German comedian Jan Bohmermann.

Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan filed a criminal complaint against German comedian Jan Bohmermann in Ankara over his satirical poem broadcast last year.

Erdoğan’s lawyer Hüseyin Aydın has submitted 15-page complaint to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Ankara against Bohmermann, whose poem mocking Erdoğan was shown on the ZDFneo TV channel in Germany in March 2016. The Turkish Penal Code carries a four-year prison sentence for insulting the president.

Previously German prosecutors dropped a case against Bohmermann in October 2016  when they found insufficient evidence that the comedian had intended to insult Erdoğan. The case caused controversy in Germany after Chancellor Angela Merkel granted a request from Erdoğan’s side to open an investigation into whether Bohmermann had breached a law banning insults against the representatives of foreign governments.

Lawyer Aydın claimed German comedian Bohmermann could be prosecuted in Turkey even though the alleged offense was committed in Germany. Bohmermann claimed his poem was aimed at highlighting human rights abuses in Turkey.

Scores of people in Turkey have been detained or arrested or are under investigation on allegations of insulting Erdoğan. As of the end of 2016, at least 10,000 people were under investigation on suspicion of terrorist propaganda and insulting senior state officials on social media.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Interior Affairs in December, 3,710 social media users had been investigated in the last six months of 2016, of whom 1,656 were arrested. A total of 1,203 of those investigations resulted in releases on probation.

April 28, 2017

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