Teen detained for allegedly swearing at President Erdoğan’s convoy

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

A 16-year-old girl was detained on the orders of a presidential guard after allegedly cursing at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s convoy as it passed by, the Kronos news website reported.

The teenager explained that she reacted out of fear when she saw a rapidly approaching car while waiting at a crosswalk. “I had no idea that any state official, including the president, would be there. I’d never insult any state official, including the president,” she said, adding that she is a high school student with no criminal record.

Her reaction was reportedly due to a previous trauma from a near-accident six months ago. “My reaction was misunderstood, and I did not curse. I just reacted out of fear. When the convoy followed the speeding car, and an official intervened, I realized it was the president’s convoy. I did not act with the intent to commit a crime,” she said.

An İstanbul court released the 16-year-old under judicial supervision, requiring her to check in at a police station once a week, and imposing a travel ban.

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.

Since Erdoğan was first elected president in 2014, more than 160,000 people have been investigated on allegations of insult; criminal charges have been filed against 45,000 of them; and 13,000 people have been convicted.

Meanwhile, 972 minors were investigated last year for allegedly insulting either Erdoğan or the Turkish state.

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