Germany rejects Turkey’s request for judicial assistance in trial of Kurdish singer and activist Ferhat Tunç

The Darmstadt Prosecutor General’s Office denied a Turkish court’s request for judicial assistance in the trial of famous singer and activist Ferhat Tunç, on the grounds that it would violate his right to freedom of expression.

According to a report by the Mezopotamya news agency, the request was made in relation to a case in which Tunç is being tried for “insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan” based on his social media posts in 2018.

Tunç, who is living in exile in Germany, did not attend his trial at the Büyükçekmece 14th Criminal Court of First Instance.

The judge shared the German prosecutor office’s response during the hearing.

The Kurdish singer was also indicted by the Büyükçekmece Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2016 for allegedly insulting former Turkish prime minister Binali Yıldırım on Twitter.

German prosecutors had previously denied a request for judicial assistance from a Turkish court in another case involving Tunç on the grounds that freedom of expression is a fundamental right according to the German constitution.

In July 2021 Tunç said he was repeatedly threatened on social media and was warned by the Hessen state police against a possible attack.

A pro-government social media account named “Jitemkurt” on July 11, 2021 published a list of journalists and activists living in Europe and North America whom they planned to assassinate. The account published the names of 21 individuals including Tunç and threatened to kill them.

Thousands of people in Turkey are under investigation, and most of them are under the threat of imprisonment over alleged insults of President 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. The Turkish police and judiciary perceive even the most minor criticism of the president or his government as an insult.

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