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Insulting remarks against academics within limits of free speech, Erdoğan says

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who used apparently heavily insulting words targeting academics who signed a peace declaration earlier this year said in his plea made to the court that his remarks were within limits of the freedom of speech, according to a story in the Cumhuriyet daily on Monday.

Erdoğan’s plea was made to  the court by one of his lawyers, Hüseyin Aydın, after retired Professor Baskın Oran filed  a TL10,000 compensation last month against the president for non-pecuniary damages due to his remarks targeting the academics in four separate speeches.

Erdoğan harshly criticized more than 1,000 academics who called for an end to ongoing violence in the country’s Southeast in a peace declaration they signed earlier this year. Oran was one of the signatories of the declaration.

In one speech back then, Erdoğan accused the academics of being a fifth column of foreign power destined to undermine Turkey’s national security. He also used many apparently insulting words for the academics such as “immoral, vile, disgusting, ignorant and traitor.”

In his plea, Erdoğan cited examples from the rulings of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights concerning freedom of expression and freedom of thought.

The president said freedom of expression also applies to aggressive, shocking and disturbing ideas and information for the state or a part of the society and it is impossible to be a democratic society without freedom of expression.

Given the fact that Erdoğan has filed around 2,000 cases against individuals on charges of insulting president since he was elected to presidency in August 2014, many found his reference to freedom of expression contradictory with the fact that he took so many legal action against people simply because of their critical views about Erdoğan.

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