The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office has submitted an indictment requesting between one year, two months and two years, four months’ imprisonment for Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul provincial chairman Canan Kaftancıoğlu on charges of insulting Fahrettin Altun, communications director of the Turkish Presidency, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported on Friday, citing the Bianet news website.
The investigation was based on a complaint submitted in April 2020. The prosecutor claimed that Kaftancıoğlu insulted Altun by commenting on unlicensed construction at Altun’s house in the Üsküdar district of İstanbul. She is expected to stand trial in İstanbul’s 40th Criminal Court of First Instance.
In April Kaftancıoğlu had been ordered by a Turkish court to pay damages in the amount of TL 56,000 ($6,800) to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on for insulting him on social media.
Erdoğan also filed a lawsuit against Kaftancıoğlu in May seeking TL 500,000 ($60,000) in non-pecuniary damages on accusations that she violated Erdoğan’s personal rights.
A total of 45,000 investigations were launched into individuals on allegations of insulting the president or government officials, with 9,773 of them standing trial in 2020, according to the statistics published by the Turkish Justice Ministry.
Any person who criticizes Erdoğan or his government can be sentenced to up to four years under Article 299 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) or two years under Article 301 of the same law, penalizing insults against the president or the cabinet.
The criminal code articles have been the greatest obstacle to freedom of expression during the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Even Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu faces up to four years in prison for referring to Erdoğan as a “so-called president.”