Veteran actor faces 2 years in prison on charges of insulting the Turkish nation

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A veteran actor has been indicted on charges of insulting the Turkish nation on social media and faces up to two years in prison, the Demirören news agency reported on Sunday.

İlyas Salman, 72, is accused in the indictment of insulting the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish Parliament and government and legal institutions of the state in a video he posted on social media on Jan. 25, 2021. The charges are based on Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which criminalizes public denigration of “Turkishness, the Republic or Grand National Assembly of Turkey.”

In the video Salman criticizes the policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the people who vote for the party, which has been in power as a single-party government since 2002.

In his statement to the prosecutor, Salman said he did not intend to insult any person or any state institution and that his remarks were within the limits of freedom of expression. The actor said he is opposed to the government and that he criticizes it for a better future for the country.

An investigation into Salman was launched in September. The actor will appear before an İstanbul court in March.

The infamous Article 301 of the TCK was frequently used in the 2000s to prosecute intellectuals on charges of insulting Turkishness. In the wake of widespread criticism from local and international rights groups and the European Union, the AKP government amended the controversial article in 2008 and made permission from the Justice Ministry a prerequisite for the launch of investigations based on this article.

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