Man detained by police outside İstanbul courthouse for allegedly insulting Erdoğan

Police detained a man outside the Çağlayan Courthouse in İstanbul on Friday on accusations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

The man, whose identity was not revealed, had shouted, “Erdoğan is a thief! He will be held accountable for the December 17-25 corruption scandals!” and was taken to a police station for questioning.

The December 17-25 bribery and corruption investigations shook the country back in 2013. The probe implicated the family members of four cabinet ministers as well as the children of then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Despite the scandal resulting in the resignation of the cabinet members, the investigation was dropped after prosecutors and police chiefs were removed from the case. Erdoğan, officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the pro-government media have described the investigation as an attempt to overthrow the government.

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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