Lawyer, detained for insulting AKP politician, arrested on Erdoğan insult charges

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A lawyer who was detained earlier this week over a tweet he posted about controversial remarks made by a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker has been arrested on charges of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Mert Yaşar was detained on Monday after an İstanbul prosecutor launched an investigation into him due to a tweet regarding AKP deputy group chairperson Özlem Zengin’s recent remarks about women jailed with their children.

Zengin earlier this week accused women who have links to the faith-based Gülen movement of having babies on orders from the movement to create the perception that pregnant women are jailed in Turkey.

Her controversial remarks came during a recent show on TV Net at a time when Zengin was already under fire over comments denying the practice of strip-searches in Turkey’s prisons and detention centers despite the accounts of dozens of victims.

Yaşar was subsequently arrested on Tuesday after appearing in court on charges of insulting Erdoğan apparently because there was a reference to the presidential cabinet in his tweet, which attracted harsh criticism from the AKP for containing sexual implications.

The Gülen movement is accused by the AKP and its leader Erdoğan of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and is labelled a terrorist organization. The movement, however, strongly denies any involvement in the failed coup or any terrorist activity.

Thousands of people face judicial proceedings in Turkey due to their criticism of the president, the government or government officials on insult charges.

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 was committed through the mass media.

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