Turkish court releases university students detained for Erdoğan caricature

Four students at Turkey’s prestigious Middle East Technical University (METU) detained for carrying a banner bearing caricatures depicting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as various animals have been released, Turkish news site İleri Haber reported on Friday.

The students were arrested after appearing at the 2018 METU graduation ceremony carrying the banner.

Banners bearing humorous images or commentary on the current political situation have become a tradition at the METU graduation ceremonies.

The court did not see the funny side of the students’ banner, however, and the students were arrested in early July, charged with insulting the president and had been detained pending trial until the decision to release them on Friday.

“Even if it came late, the court made the right decision in the end,” said Erinç Sağkan, a lawyer defending the students.

While they will no longer await trial under detention, the court ordered the four students to appear for compulsory police checks and barred them from leaving the country.

It is illegal in Turkey to insult the president, and thanks to a flexible interpretation of the law hundreds have been charged with this offence, including cartoonists and social media users. (Ahval)

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