Famous Kurdish poet sentenced to prison for insulting Erdoğan

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A local court has sentenced famous Kurdish poet, writer and journalist Yılmaz Odabaşı to nearly a year in prison for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish Minute reported on Wednesday, citing a media watchdog.

The Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), an NGO active in the fields of freedom of expression, journalism, internet freedoms and the right to information, announced on social media on Wednesday that ‘Odabaşı, 59, was sentenced to 11 months, 20 days for the third and final hearing of his trial at the 2nd Yalova Criminal Court of First Instance.

The court did not stay the sentence, the MLSA added.

Odabaşı left Turkey after the general elections in November 2015, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power since 2002, returned to power as a one-party government. He returned to Turkey in 2016 after living abroad.

In 2017, Odabaşı was given a one-year and eight-month suspended prison sentence for allegedly insulting Erdoğan in an opinion piece in 2015.

In December 2020, he was arrested in Istanbul shortly after criticizing the Turkish government’s ongoing crackdown on members of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016. despite a strong denial from the group.

Insulting the president carries criminal charges under Turkish law, and thousands of people in the country are under investigation, most of them under threat of imprisonment, for insults alleged Erdoğan. The cases of insults usually come from social media posts shared by Erdoğan’s opponents. The Turkish police and judiciary perceive even the most minor criticism of Erdoğan or his government as an insult.

Anyone who insults the president faces up to four years in prison, a sentence that can be increased if the crime was committed through the media.

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