More than 6,000 people appeared in court in 2023 for insulting Erdoğan, his government

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

A total of 6,879 people appeared in Turkish courts in 2023 on allegations of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, the BirGün newspaper reported on Sunday, citing Justice Ministry data.

According to the report, 1,602 people were convicted in these trials, while 1,982 received suspended sentences and 1,774 were acquitted.

The Justice Ministry figures were based on investigations and trials conducted under the controversial Articles 299 and 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which make it illegal to insult the president, the Turkish nation, state, republic or state institutions.

Categorized as the “Crimes Against the Symbols of State Sovereignty and the Dignity of its Institutions,” the provisions are often criticized as a significant stumbling block to freedom of expression.

New investigations were launched into 18,856 people last year, 552 of whom were minors.

Erdoğan and the AKP are often criticized by rights groups and international organizations for weaponizing the articles as a method of suppressing and sanctioning dissidents.

Only 1,716 insult cases were filed during the terms in office of the five presidents who preceded Erdoğan.

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. Any person who criticizes the government can be sentenced to up to two years.

The insult cases generally stem from social media posts shared by Erdoğan opponents.

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