High school student convicted of insulting Erdogan

A high school student in Diyarbakır was sentenced to over seven months in prison on Thursday for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Bianet news website reported.

The case concerned a tweet posted by Yusuf S. in December 2022 in which he referred to Erdoğan as a “dictator.”

Diyarbakır prosecutors launched an investigation into him, and the court concluded his trial at the first hearing on Thursday, reducing his sentence to seven months, 23 days from one year and most likely suspending it due to the short incarceration and the defendant’s age.

The 17-year-old was prosecuted and convicted despite a 2018 ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeals which stated that referring to the president as a “thief,” “murderer,” or “dictator” does not amount to insult.

During the hearing, the defendant denied having an account on X, formerly Twitter, and challenged the evidence presented by the prosecution.

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.

Since Erdoğan was first elected president in 2014, more than 160,000 people have been investigated on allegations of insult; criminal charges have been filed against 45,000 of them; and 13,000 people have been convicted.

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