Opposition youth branch official arrested for insulting Erdoğan

A local youth branch chairman from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) was arrested a day after his detention on charges of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a speech, Turkish Minute reported on Tuesday.

Tugay Odabaşıoğlu, provincial chair of the CHP’s Denizli youth branch, was detained on Monday for allegedly calling Erdoğan a “murderer” during a speech at a local party meeting in Merkezefendi on Sept. 18, a claim made by pro-government media outlets that pointed to Odabaşıoğlu as a target, Duvar said.

CHP Denizli provincial branch chair Bülent Nuri Çavuşoğlu refuted the claim in a statement to the press after a local court ruled to arrest Odabaşıoğlu on Tuesday.

According to Justice Ministry data, a total of 160,169 investigations and 35,507 cases have been launched on charges of insulting the president over the past seven years, beginning with the election of Erdoğan to the presidency in 2014 to the end of 2020, local media reported on Tuesday.

Some 38,608 people, including 322 minors between ages of 12 and 14 and 785 between the ages of 15 and 17, were prosecuted on charges of insulting Erdoğan in the 2014-2020 period, while 3,625 people were sentenced to prison, the ministry data further showed.

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 Erdoğan or his government as an insult.

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