Turkish TV anchor to testify in Erdoğan insult investigation

Şule Aydın (Photo: Twitter)

HALK TV anchor and journalist Şule Aydın has been ordered to give testimony to a prosecutor in Istanbul after an investigation was launched to determine if she had insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Bold news website reported.

The police have been instructed by the prosecutor’s office to bring her in to testify, Aydın said on Twitter.

The Turkish police and judiciary have perceived even the most minor criticism of the President Erdoğan or his government as an insult.

Thousands of people in Turkey are currently under investigation, and most of them are under the threat of imprisonment over alleged insults of Erdoğan. The insult cases generally stem from social media posts.

Turkish prosecutors launched 7,600 investigations into individuals on allegations of insulting President Erdoğan in 2022, according to data from the Justice Ministry.

A total of 1,872 people were convicted of the crime of insulting the president last year.

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 44,675 of them; and around 13,000 people have been convicted of the crime of insulting the president.

Only 1,716 insult cases were filed by the five presidents who preceded him. Turkish prosecutors initiated investigations into 848 people for insulting 11th president Abdullah Gül and 207 for insulting eighth president Turgut Özal.

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.

Leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has promised to repeal the penal code that is used to prosecute people who criticize the country’s president on charges of insult if he is elected to the top state post in elections taking place this Sunday.

The CHP chairman said since Article 299 limits freedom of expression, his government would take immediate action for its repeal.

“People will wake up to a free Turkey on the morning of May 15,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

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