Experts say Gollum does not represent evil in Erdoğan insult case

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A group of experts who were asked by a court to draft a report about the personality of Gollum, a fictional character to whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was likened, said in their report that Gollum does not represent evil and is actually a victimized character, the Diken news portal reported on Friday.

The report was submitted to an Aydın court in western Turkey on Wednesday as part of the trial of physician Bilgin Çiftçi, who faces charges of insulting Erdoğan by pointing out similarities between Erdoğan and Gollum in a Facebook post.

Çiftçi shared three facial expressions of Erdoğan and Gollum side by side on his Facebook page on Aug. 23, 2014, after which an investigation was immediately launched. Çiftçi lost his job as a public servant in October 2014.

Gollum is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien’s legendary “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” The character often reverts between scoundrel and victim, usually talking to himself.

The experts said an examination of the relevant literature and the movies show that Gollum is far from being a symbol of evil and is actually a victim and an oppressed character.

The group assessing the fictional character included one academic and two psychologists.

The court will give its final ruling on Çiftçi at a hearing slated for Oct. 25.

Last December, Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson issued a statement saying the images posted by Çiftçi were actually of Sméagol, Gollum’s benign alter ego.

Jackson and screenwriter Fran Walsh said: “If the images … are in fact the ones forming the basis of this Turkish lawsuit, we can state categorically – none of them feature the character known as Gollum. All of them are images of the character called Sméagol.”

The statement added: “Sméagol is a joyful, sweet, character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious – these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Sméagol. Sméagol would never dream of wielding power over those weaker than himself. He is not a bully. In fact he’s very loveable.”

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, a sentence that can be increased if the crime is committed through the mass media.

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