Turkish court jails Facebook user over Erdoğan criticism

Turgay İnce, a Turkish Facebook user who shared friends-only posts critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was arrested and put to pre-trial detention, according to a report by neo-nationalist online news outlet OdaTV.

The report said İnce was detained during a joint operation by Kadıköy and Başakşehir police forces in İstanbul as a result of the efforts of lawyer Burak Bekiroğlu.

In a number of Facebook posts, İnce called members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Erdoğan “dishonourable” and “immoral”, called Erdoğan “ignoble”, “brazen”, “a traitor”, “a liar”, and “an idiot” as well as suggesting he had been involved in theft, and said that the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 was a false flag by the ruling party.

Hundreds of people have been detained in Turkey since the start of the year for their social media posts, with cases this month including two British and one German tourist accused of sympathising with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).


Meanwhile, a Thai television presenter Peerapol “Champ” Euariyakul has been fired over live broadcast comments in which he called Turkish President Erdoğan a dictator, according to a report by Thai news site Khaosod.

Digital TV 28 fired Euariyakul over comments made on the subject of Turkish-origin German footballer Mesut Özil’s resignation following a furore over Özil meeting Erdoğan and having a photograph taken with him during a recent Turkish election campaign.

“You are the leader of Turkey but everyone worldwide is stepping on you because you are such a dictator. You made laws to keep yourself in power for 14 years,” Euariyakul, who hosts one of Thailand’s most popular sports programmes, said.

“The five things you will hear the most when talking about Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are ‘dictator,’ ‘election fraud,’ ‘not listening to citizens,’ ‘getting rid of the opposition in any way possible,’ and ‘the leader that jails the most journalists,’” he added.

After objections from a local Muslim group, TV executives took Euariyakul to apologise personally to the Turkish ambassador for his remarks, Khaosod said.

Moreover, Turkish broadcasting watchdog RTÜK has fined Kurdish-language children’s television channel Zarok TV for “promoting terrorism” by including a song that talked about Kurdistan, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said.

The channel, which had been closed down by RTÜK for a period during the state of emergency and which was placed under the supervision of the Culture and Tourism Ministry by decree upon re-opening, had included a folk song called “Gulamın Cızîra Botane” in a programme on March 17.

The song, RTÜK said, included the words “Kurdistan”, “the resistance of the east” and “the resistance of Nusaybin,” the latter a reference to a Kurdish-majority town on the border with Syria.

On March 20, another programme included the Kurdish folk song “Kurdistan pir şêrîne”, which included the lyrics “Kurdistan is very sweet. You are the home of the Kurds. You are the oil-lamp and the firewood, you are our voice in the world.”

Positive references to a Kurdistan served the interests of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), RTÜK said. The program makers and the channel were both fined, and the channel was sentenced to five instances of stopping the programme from airing.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 240 journalists and media workers were in jail as of July 21, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 179 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 144 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with Ahval)

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