Court acquits man who likened Erdoğan to Gollum character

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Physician Bilgin 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.

A court in the western province of Aydın on Tuesday acquitted physician Bilgin Çiftçi, who faced charges of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by pointing out similarities between Erdoğan and Gollum, a fictional character, 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.

Last September, a group of experts who were asked by the Aydın court to draft a report about the personality of Gollum, said in their report that Gollum does not represent evil and is actually a victimized character. 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.

Çiftçi’s trial found extensive coverage in the foreign media, prompting Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson to issue a statement saying the images posted by Çiftçi were actually of Sméagol, Gollum’s benign alter ego.

Speaking to reporters about the court ruling following his acquittal, Çiftçi said such court decisions are important at a time when there is distrust of the Turkish judiciary.

He also said an administrative court where he applied to return to his job as a public servant was awaiting the decision of the Aydın court to make a ruling.

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