81-year-old Turkish actress gets suspended sentence on Erdoğan insult charges

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An 81-year-old Turkish actress has been given a suspended sentence of 11 months, 20 days on charges of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media, according to Turkish media reports.

Nilüfer Aydan appeared at her last hearing before an İstanbul court on Tuesday. Her lawyer said Aydan’s social media messages included only political criticism and not insults.

“I am leaving the decision to the judges. I want my acquittal,” the actress told the judges in her final statement.

The court handed down the sentence to Aydan in line with the recommendation of President Erdoğan’s lawyer. If Aydan commits the same offense within the next five years, she will go to jail to serve her sentence.

According to the indictment Aydan’s social media messages from the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 include insults against the president. She was actually facing a prison sentence of up to eight years.

Thousands of people in Turkey are under investigation, and most of them are under the threat of imprisonment, over alleged insults of President Erdoğan. The insult cases generally stem from social media posts shared by Erdoğan opponents. The Turkish police and judiciary perceive even the most minor criticism of Erdoğan or his government as an insult.

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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