More than 900 minors, including 264 between the ages of 12 and 14, have appeared in court in Turkey in six years for “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a report said.
The Justice Ministry report revealed Sunday that a total of 128,872 investigations have been launched into the matter in six years. Under Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code, insulting the president can result in a prison sentence of between one and four years.
The prosecutor’s office evaluated more than 36,000 complaints and initiated criminal proceedings in more than 11,370 in 2019 only. A total of 9,556 cases resulted in convictions and nearly 2,680 people were sentenced to prison, seven of whom are children. More than 4,320 people were acquitted.
Foreigners and legal entities were also among the defendants, with charges usually based on social media posts.
The recent court cases have raised concerns about freedom of expression in Turkey. Erdogan has denied any crackdown on free expression in Turkey.
There have been a record number of such cases during his tenure as president.
Human rights groups and free speech advocates have criticized the Turkish government for suing people for expressing their views, describing it as a means of aggressively silencing dissent in Turkey.
Erdogan threatens NATO
Turkish president threatened to veto NATO defense plan to strengthen defense of Poland and Baltic states against Russia.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Istanbul on Tuesday that if NATO does not officially recognize the threat posed by the groups Ankara considers terrorists, Turkey will veto NATO’s defense plan to strengthen the defense of Poland and the Baltic states against Russia.
Before leaving for the NATO summit in London, Erdogan said he would meet with the leaders of the Baltic countries and Poland for talks in this regard.
Relations between Turkey and its allies within NATO have been affected by Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system and Turkey’s attack on northern Syria.
Some NATO members strongly condemned Turkey’s military campaign in northern Syria.
Ankara has made support for NATO’s defense plan to strengthen the defenses of Poland and the Baltic states against Russia conditional on support for its military operation against Kurdish militias in northern Syria.
The Turkish president wants NATO to classify the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG), which Turkey has declared a terrorist organization but at the same time has been a U.S. ally in the fight against the IS militia in Syria, as a threat.
by Basit Abbasi