Turkish prosecutors have indicted a journalist on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to his criticism of the president on TV, the private DHA news agency reported.
Journalist Levent Gültekin is facing a prison sentence of up to four years, eight months, according to an indictment drafted by the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in İstanbul.
The investigation into the journalist was launched based on a complaint filed by Erdoğan’s lawyers.
Gültekin, who testified to the prosecutors as part of the investigation, denied the insult charges and said his remarks were only political criticism.
The journalist’s remarks that sparked the investigation into him concerned a terrorist attack on a police station in the southern province of Mersin in September 2022, which claimed the life of a policeman.
Gültekin said the government’s polarizing discourse was responsible for such incidents to take place in the country.
“If there is a separatist in Turkey, it is Tayyip Erdoğan,” Gültekin said, accusing the president of polarizing the people and trying to hang onto power by fomenting enmity in the public. He also accused Erdoğan and his government of engaging in corruption and not having any plans to leave power.
He was speaking on the pro-opposition Halk TV station.
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.