Veteran Turkish actor İlyas Salman is set to stand trial on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to an indictment drafted by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Turkish Minute reported on Friday, citing Deutsche Welle’s Turkish edition.
The trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 10 at the İstanbul 2nd Magistrate Criminal Court.
The charges stem from an interview Salman gave to the BirGün daily on Aug. 1, 2022. In the interview Salman said he did not consider Erdoğan worthy of the presidential seat and described him as an “unworthy man.”
Following the interview, Ahmet Özel, an attorney for Erdoğan, filed a criminal complaint against Salman. The complaint alleges that Salman’s comments were defamatory and aimed to tarnish the president’s reputation.
The actor, a supporter of left wing politics, is accused in the indictment of insulting the president, which is subject to criminal charges under the controversial Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
Thousands of people in the country are under investigation, with most of them under threat of imprisonment, over alleged insults of Erdoğan. 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.
Salman, 72, defended his remarks during a preliminary investigation, stating that expressing his likes or dislikes, including about the president, is his right and not a crime.
Despite Salman’s defense, the prosecutor’s office has decided to proceed with the case, accusing him of committing the crime of insulting the president.
The actor has starred in dozens of Turkish films in addition to being a director, author, screenwriter and musician.