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Man who designed controversial stickers acquitted of Erdoğan insult charges

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A man who was indicted on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for designing some stickers that hold the president and his far-right ally responsible for high prices in stores, has been acquitted of the insult charges, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

An İstanbul court has ruled to acquit Mahir Akkoyun, who was briefly detained in April and subsequently indicted on charges of insulting the president, on the grounds that his actions did not constitute a crime.

The stickers designed by Akkoyun were widely circulated on social media before the parliamentary and presidential elections held in May, when Erdoğan faced one the most challenging elections of his political career due to high inflation and an increasing cost of living.

Erdoğan and his party, however, managed to secure yet another term in power in the elections.

Some of the stickers designed by Akkoyun included a photo of Erdoğan, in addition to his far-right election ally Devlet Bahçeli, and said, “This product is expensive because of us. Think about it when you cast your vote.”

“Do you find this product expensive? It’s because of Erdoğan. Keep that in mind when you cast your vote,” said some other stickers.

Akkoyun’s detention and filing of criminal charges against him sparked condemnation on social media, with users calling on Turkey’s opposition to stand by him.

“Finally, the acquittal decision has come out. It has turned out that designing a sticker and saying, ‘Do you find this product expensive? It’s because of Erdoğan,’ is not a crime,” Akkoyun tweeted on Monday, with a smile emoji. He also shared a copy of the court ruling on his acquittal.

In Turkey thousands of people are investigated, prosecuted or convicted of insult charges against the president, which 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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