JournalismPakistan.com June 21, 2015
Head columnist for Türk Solu weekly and leader of the National Party (UP) Gökçe FÄ±rat ÇulhaoÄŸlu was detained on May 30 by the Istanbul Police Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau as part of an investigation launched over one of his speeches posted on YouTube where he allegedly insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan.
BGNNews.com reported that following the detention, Istanbul’s 10th Criminal Court of Peace issued the warrant for his arrest and the journalist spent 18 days in prison. He was released pending trial on June 18th due to an appeal by his lawyers.
Claiming that the critical journalist went beyond the limits of freedom of expression in his speech posted on YouTube, the indictment demands a prison sentence of up to 6 years, 8 months for ÇulhaoÄŸlu. Although he claims in his defense that he delivered the speech during ErdoÄŸan's prime ministry, the indictment is still charging him for insulting the president – a more serious crime than insulting the prime minister – as the speech was posted on YouTube on April 23rd, 2015, after ErdoÄŸan had been elected president.
The “insulting a public official” crime has put scores of journalists, academicians, ordinary citizens - even some teenagers - in hot water. According to the latest official statistics from the Ministry of Justice in mid-March, there have been 236 charges filed over insulting President ErdoÄŸan since he was elected president in August 2014, of which 105 charges lead to prosecution. Additionally, there are also many other charges filed from back when he was prime minister before last August.
Such investigations and trials frequently draw heavy criticism from prominent rights groups including Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters without Borders, Amnesty and Freedom House. - BGNNews.com
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