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Man arrested in İzmir for ‘insulting Erdoğan’ on social media

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A 23-year-old man was arrested in the Seferihisar district of the western İzmir province for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media after the failed coup attempt on July 16.

Identified by the initials E.D., the suspect was detained by police officers from the Cyber Crimes Unit of the provincial department on July 24. E.D. was arrested after being referred to court on charges that include “insulting the president” and “praising the offense or the offender.”

Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey, according to the controversial Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Whoever insults the president can face up to four years in prison, and it could go up if the crime is committed through the mass media.

According to a recent statement from Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, Turkish prosecutors have opened nearly 2,000 cases against people for insulting Erdoğan since he was elected to presidency in August 2014.

Critics accuse Erdoğan of intolerance and say he is using the law to stifle dissent. Those who have faced trial for insulting Erdoğan include journalists, cartoonists, academics and even teenagers.

A group of rebel soldiers, acting out of chain of command, attempted a military coup at around 10 p.m. on July 15, which left more than 200 people – including civilians – dead.

The Turkish government managed to suppress the coup attempt and launched a large-scale crackdown across the country on media, public servants, judges, prosecutors and teachers, along with rebels within the army. The detentions, arrests and massive purges that followed the crackdown widened and increased after a state of emergency was declared on July 20, concentrating power formally into the hands of Erdoğan by allowing him and his cabinet to make laws by fiat.

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