Almost 100 people detained on charges of insulting Erdogan

The report, launched by CHP İstanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, says 66 of the 98 people arrested were held on trial.

Recently, physician Dr. Bilgin Ciftci was accused of insulting Erdogan after sharing a meme comparing the president’s facial expressions to those of Gollum, a character in “The Lord of the Rings” movies. A court has demanded an expert examination of the films and Gollum’s character to determine whether a comparison with him is actually an insult.

In October, Ciftci was expelled from the Public Health Institution of Turkey (THSK) after sharing the meme and allegedly insulting the president.

According to the report, 5,795 people were taken into custody — 982 of which were arrested — between January and Oct. 7, 2015 regarding issues pertaining to human rights.

The report also documents the climbing number of websites that have been blocked by a court order in recent years. Presenting a clear upward curve, it states that 15,562 websites were blocked in 2011, 22,536 in 2012, 35,000 in 2013, 40,773 in 2014 and 96,000 in 2015.

Hundreds of people have been charged and others detained after being accused of insulting Erdogan since he was elected president in August 2014. Journalists and public figures critical of the government in particular have been targeted by the police and prosecutors on the grounds that they have insulted the head of state.

These developments are widely considered a new method of intimidating political opponents who do not share the government’s views. Dozens of people, including high-profile media figures Sedef Kabas, Hidayet Karaca and Mehmet Baransu, high school students, activists and even Merve Buyuksarac — a former Miss Turkey — have been prosecuted for insulting Erdogan on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bulent Kenes was arrested by the İstanbul 7th Criminal Court of Peace on Oct. 10 and detained in prison until a release pending trial was ordered on Oct. 14 over tweets that allegedly insulted President Erdogan.

Kenes’s arrest attracted worldwide condemnation, with a number of press organizations and journalists in Turkey denouncing the ruling, saying that it goes against the principle of media freedom.