Today’s Zaman editor-in-chief faces 8 years in jail for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

An indictment prepared by prosecutor Umut Tepe from the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office claims some of the tweets Kenes posted on his Twitter account cannot be deemed within the scope of “freedom of speech and thought” and that Kenes committed the offense of “insulting the president” on more than one occasion.

The prosecutor’s office is seeking a prison sentence of up to eight years. However, Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which is frequently used as the basis for cases where there are charges of insulting Erdogan, seeks four years’ imprisonment for those who criticize Erdogan publicly. Tepe claims in the indictment that Kenes committed this crime more than once and so the punishment should be increased from four years to eight, according to Paragraph 1 of Article 43 of the TCK.

The paragraph in question states: “In the event that the same offense is committed against a person more than once at successive intervals, a punishment is to be imposed on the offender. However, this punishment may be increased by one-fourth to three-fourths of the issued penalty. The basic elements or characteristics of an offense determining the degree of punishment [heavy or light punishment] are considered to define whether the intended act is the same offense or not.”

Kenes was arrested by the İstanbul 7th Criminal Court of Peace on Oct. 10 and remained behind bars until his release pending trial was ordered on Oct. 14. The charges against the journalist concern 14 tweets that allegedly insulted the president. Kenes’s arrest attracted worldwide condemnation, with a number of press organizations and journalists both inside and outside of Turkey denouncing the ruling, saying that it went against the principle of media freedom. Kenes has already been convicted of insulting the president in a Twitter post and was handed a suspended prison sentence of 21 months earlier this year. However, Kenes did not even mention the president’s name in his tweet and this sentence has attracted worldwide condemnation.

Pressure on journalists has been rapidly increasing in Turkey over the past few years. Many journalists are facing charges of terrorism or charges related to the alleged insulting of state officials. Under the presidency of Erdogan, it has been an almost daily occurrence in Turkey for journalists and public figures to face legal action for just this and some have even received prison sentences.

Such legal proceedings are considered a way for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Erdogan to punish those journalists who are not in support of them.

Editors Cevheri Guven and Murat Capan, from the Nokta magazine, were arrested in early November for one of their publication’s covers. They are now also facing up to 20 years in prison on the charge of inciting the public to armed conflict, based on a report published in their magazine.

TV producer and journalist Ugur Dundar and Sozcu daily columnist Necati Dogru were sentenced to 11 months and 20 days in prison by an İstanbul court for insulting Minister Binali Yıldırım and Erdogan, respectively, early in October.

Former Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı, Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dundar, veteran journalist Ahmet Altan and columnists Cengiz Candar, Ertugrul Ozkok, Hasan Cemal and Perihan Magden are among some of the other journalists who have faced investigations for allegedly insulting Erdogan since August of last year.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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