Investigation launched into Turkish-Cypriot academic for insulting Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar

A police investigation has been launched into Associate Professor Hasan Ulaş Altıok, a Turkish-Cypriot academic, on allegations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish Minute reported, citing Turkish Cypriot left-wing newspaper Yenidüzen.

According to Yenidüzen, Altıok has been summoned over an article he allegedly authored and published to “disrupt the peace and friendship” between Turkey and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) and “insult” and “humiliate” Erdoğan.

The KKTC is a breakaway state founded after Turkish intervention in the island in 1974, which followed a coup by Greek nationalists who sought unification with Greece amid a civil war between Greeks and Turks living on the island.

Thousands of people in Turkey are also 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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