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Journalist ordered to pay TL 25K for insulting Erdoğan’s son-in-law

Journalist Levent Gültekin

A journalist in Turkey has been ordered to pay a fine of TL 25,000 ($866) on conviction of insulting Selçuk Bayraktar, the chief technical officer of Turkish unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) producer Baykar who is also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the journalist has announced.

Journalist Levent Gültekin made the announcement on X, formerly known as Twitter, stating that the court’s decision pertains to a “simple criticism” he made of Bayraktar, despite the absence of any insult or slander.

“They are encroaching on my finances with the power of the state, are you happy Mr. Son-in-law? May this money be forbidden for you, I hope you lose much more,” Gültekin added.

The journalist was fined for saying, referring to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), that “they have tied the defense industry of the entire country to the son-in-law, and he, in turn, has linked his fate to his father-in-law.”

Gültekin was also indicted in late September on charges of insulting President Erdoğan due to his criticism of the president on TV.

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 that claimed the life of a policeman.

Gültekin said the government’s polarizing discourse was responsible for such incidents taking 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 cling to power by fomenting enmity among the public. He also accused Erdoğan and his government of engaging in corruption and not having any plans to leave power.

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.

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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