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Turkish court docket jails journalist over proverb that ‘insulted’ Erdogan

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ISTANBUL — One of Turkey’s best-known TV journalists was spending a 3rd night time behind bars on Monday after being jailed on a cost of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Media rights teams and opposition figures condemned the Istanbul court docket’s resolution to maintain Sedef Kabas in jail forward of a trial that stems from her reciting a proverb.

Tens of hundreds have been investigated for insulting Erdogan since he turned president in 2014 beneath laws that critics describe as draconian and an impediment to free speech.

After Kabas was remanded, the primary opposition celebration mentioned it might push for the abolition of the “insult law,” which carries a four-year most sentence.

Police arrested Kabas, who has hosted a sequence of high-profile TV exhibits and lectured on the media in a profession spanning three a long time, at her home in Istanbul within the early hours of Saturday morning.

Every week earlier, she had appeared as a visitor on a political dialogue present on TV channel TELE1, the place she quoted what she described as a proverb: “When the ox goes to the palace, he does not become a king. But the palace becomes a barn.”

Her look was adopted days later by assaults from senior authorities figures on social media over the remarks.

The Istanbul Bar Association mentioned Kabas’ pre-trial detention was opposite to Turkey’s Constitution, prison code and the European Convention on Human Rights.

It added that her midnight arrest contravened the human rights motion plan introduced by the federal government in March 2021, which says suspects ought to be referred to as to a police station themselves when applicable.

“The main reason why clear constitutional and legal guarantees on rights and freedoms cannot be implemented in practice is the failure to ensure the independence and impartiality of the judiciary,” the association’s assertion added.

In latest years, a number of high-profile instances have seen defendants held in jail for lengthy durations with out conviction. Osman Kavala, a enterprise determine going through an array of prices many think about politically motivated, has been in jail for greater than 4 years awaiting trial.

Kabas’ lawyer, Ugur Poyraz, criticized Justice Minister Adbulhamit Gul for a tweet despatched on Saturday morning during which he mentioned “outrageous and unlawful expressions” would “find the response they deserve in the conscience of the nation and before justice.”

Various different senior members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spoke out in regards to the case earlier than and after Kabas’ listening to, together with spokesman Omer Celik who appeared to characterize her feedback as “hate speech.”

After visiting Kabas, 53, in Bakirkoy girls’s jail in Istanbul, Poyraz mentioned she was in good spirits and unafraid “because she is right.” Kabas denies the cost. Poyraz mentioned he had appealed towards her detention.

Meanwhile, AKP members in no less than 55 of Turkey’s 81 provinces filed prison complaints towards Kabas and the present’s different company, each senior figures within the Republican People’s Party (CHP). Erdogan additionally filed insult prices towards CHP parliament members.

Her case prompted an emergency assembly of Turkey’s broadcasting authority on Monday, in keeping with an opposition member of the Radio and Television Supreme Council.

Ilhan Tasci, appointed as a CHP consultant, mentioned that the board fined TELE1 and banned the present on which Kabas appeared — Democracy Arena — for 5 weeks for “inciting hatred and enmity.”

Since 2014, greater than 35,500 instances have been filed over insulting Erdogan, leading to nearly 13,000 convictions, in keeping with figures from the Justice Ministry.

Turkey has come beneath worldwide stress to vary the laws. In October, the European Court of Human Rights dominated a person’s freedom of expression was violated when he was detained in 2017 beneath the insult legislation.

CHP Deputy Chairman Ozgur Ozel introduced the celebration would current a invoice to repeal Article 299, which encapsulates the insult legislation.

“It is clear the president should … learn to tolerate different voices and different opinions and make an effort to listen to people who do not have his views,” he mentioned.

Ali Yildiz, a Brussels-based human rights lawyer, mentioned lower than 260 folks had been prosecuted for insult beneath the 2 presidents previous Erdogan.

“Prosecutions on insulting the president of the republic have been weaponized to suppress critical voices,” he mentioned. “Recently, the European Court of Human Rights found that Article 299 of the penal code bears a systematic problem and should be amended.”

Yildiz mentioned the explanation behind Kabas’ detention was “making her an example and sustaining the atmosphere of fear.”

Kabas was convicted of insulting the president in 2019, however a jail sentence of just below a 12 months was suspended.

Her arrest comes as Turkey faces presidential and parliamentary elections subsequent 12 months amid the worst financial disaster of Erdogan’s time in energy. In such a febrile ambiance, the pro-government media has been fast to focus on dissenting voices.

Singer Sezen Aksu was not too long ago focused over alleged blasphemy in a music launched 5 years in the past.


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