Man arrested for criticizing President Erdoğan and Turkish gov’t in street interview

A man who criticized the Turkish government’s policies in a street interview was arrested on Thursday for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and “inciting fear and panic among the public,” the Tr724 news website reported.

The man, identified only by the initials V.Y., participated in a street interview in western Izmir province that was posted on social media on March 17. In the interview V.Y. said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was responsible for the social and economic problems in Turkey.

He said he believed Erdoğan was involved in illegal activities and would ultimately be put on trial. V.Y. added that the government would soon change and that the country would eventually recover from its bad policies.

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.

Thousands of people in Turkey are under investigation, and most of them are under the threat of imprisonment, over alleged insults of President Erdoğan.

The Turkish police and judiciary perceive even the most minor criticism of the president or his government as an insult.

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