Journalist given suspended sentence for mocking Erdoğan’s donation campaign

Hakan Aygun

A veteran Turkish journalist has been handed down a suspended sentence of seven months, 15 days for provoking public hatred and enmity with a tweet mocking the Turkish government’s national pandemic relief campaign.

The last hearing in the trial of journalist Hakan Aygün was held at a court in Bodrum in western Turkey on Tuesday. He had spent one month in jail and had been released pending trial in May 2020.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a national donation campaign on March 31 to assist vulnerable people suffering due to coronavirus measures taken by the country.

Simultaneously, the International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs) of donation bank accounts were posted on social media, where dissidents mocked the IBAN numbers with puns.

“Ey IBAN edenler!” journalist Aygün tweeted the same day, changing the word “iman” (faith) to IBAN, referring to the famous line in mosque sermons, “Oh those believers!”

The court considered the tweet an insult to Muslim values under Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code.

Aygün said in his defense that he did not post the tweet but merely retweeted it.

The Bodrum Court handed down the prison sentence to Aygün despite a ruling from the country’s Constitutional Court in February that Aygün’s arrest was unlawful and violated his right to personal freedoms and security.

Aygün said he would challenge the prison sentence at the Constitutional Court and would even go to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

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