A court in Istanbul on Monday released two prominent actors, Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen, on probation including an overseas travel ban after their questioning by a prosecutor on allegations of threatening and insulting the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The two were targeted by Erdoğan in a speech on Sunday after their appearance on a show on Halk TV during which they made remarks about fascism. The actors were detained by the police on Monday morning and taken to the Anadolu Courthouse on İstanbul’s Asian side.
In their defense, the two actors said their remarks were within the limits of criticism and humor but were distorted. The court released them on the condition that they appear at a police station once a week to prove that they did not violate the probation.
On Sunday İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor İsmail Uçar issued a written statement alleging that the actors had targeted the president of the Republic of Turkey and leveled insults on a show on Halk TV on Dec. 21.
Akpınar spoke on the popular TV show about the nature of fascism and said in fascist regimes the leaders can be executed. The actor also suggested democracy as the only remedy to the polarization that Turkey faces.
Taking the comments personally, Erdoğan targeted both actors in a speech and argued that their purpose was to send him to execution.
“They will pay the price in the judiciary,” Erdoğan added, claiming that the actors had threatened to hang the president of the country. A few hours after Erdoğan’s remarks, the two actors were called into the office of the prosecutor to defend themselves.
Turkey has been cracking down dissidents under Erdoğan’s rule, particularly after a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. People from all walks of life are in pre-trial detention on charges of disseminating “terrorist propaganda.”