Man arrested for insulting Erdoğan after brief detention for insulting interior minister

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A Turkish man who allegedly insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media was arrested by a court on Friday, two days after he was briefly detained for allegedly insulting Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in the same forum, the Sözcü daily reported on Friday.

The man, identified as Erdal E., was detained on Wednesday due to his allegedly insulting remarks in a comment on a photo of Soylu and his mother shared on Twitter by Bahar Ayvazoğlu, a lawmaker for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), on Jan. 16.

Soylu blasted the judiciary on social media after the Twitter user was released and placed under judicial supervision, instead of being arrested, for posting insulting remarks on a photo that includes his mother, who is currently undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in a hospital.

“My mother has been in the hospital for 45 days, and the bum who swore at us [in a comment] under our photo is released under judicial supervision. What should I do now? What difference does it make that I’m a minister? What does it mean that I can’t protect my mother’s honor while I’m occupied with state affairs?” Soylu tweeted on Wednesday.

Erdal E. was detained again later on Wednesday, this time on charges of insulting President Erdoğan on social media, and was arrested by an İstanbul court.

In an open reference to Soylu’s remarks, Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül on Thursday said he would not take orders to arrest people.

“I’m addressing those who give orders to me to arrest people on social media: The Turkish Republic is a state of law,” Gül said.

A total of 27,717 people in Turkey, including 903 youngsters under the age of 18, have faced charges of insulting Erdoğan since he was first elected in 2014, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy group chairman Özgür Özel revealed in December. Some 9,556 people have been convicted of those charges, the lawmaker also noted.

In Turkey, insulting the president is an offense, 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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