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German citizen jailed on Erdoğan insult charges released pending trial

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A German citizen of Turkish origin, Hüseyin M., who was arrested in late August on charges of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the western province of Aydın, has been released pending trial, Deutsche Welle reported on Thursday.

Hüseyin M., who travelled to Turkey for vacation, was arrested in Aydın’s Kuşadası district and has been in pre-trial detention since then.

At the first hearing of his trial on Thursday, the court ruled for Hüseyin M.’s release pending trial, his lawyer Erdal Güngör said. The court did not impose any travel ban on the man.

The lawyer said the fact that his client did not have any criminal records played a role in his release, adding that Hüseyin M.’s trial will continue and the next hearing is slated for April 9.

Hüseyin M. is accused of insulting Erdoğan on Facebook in 2014 and 2015. Erdoğan was elected president in August 2014, before which he served as the prime minister. Insulting a prime minister requires a jail sentence of up to two years, while insulting a president is punishable up to four years in Turkey. If convicted, Hüseyin M. could get a total of six years on charges of insulting a prime minister and a president.

Hüseyin M. reportedly said his Facebook account was hacked and he did not write the insulting messages about Erdoğan; however, the court did not believe his argument because he failed to provide any evidence.

According to a story in Spiegel online earlier this month, Hüseyin M. was born in Tunceli, eastern Turkey, in 1976 and went to Germany as a 13-year-old. He has been a German citizen since 2012. German diplomats had reportedly been denied contact with him, as has his wife. Only his parents-in-law were able to visit him once in prison, his brother Deniz told Spiegel.

Hüseyin M. was one of five German citizens in prison in Turkey. It is believed that there could be more because according to human rights activists, there have been many arrests in recent days and weeks, among whom there could be German citizens who have been unable as of yet to contact a German diplomatic mission.

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