Court rules calling ErdoIan ’dictator’ political criticism, not insult

An Eskiiehir court has ruled for the acquittal of two students who have been charged with insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying in the ruling that calling Erdogan a and”dictatorand” is political criticism, not an insult to the president.
Charges of insulting Erdogan were leveled against students Yusuf Sami andOzten and andcaila Safyandurek at the Eskiiehir 8th 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance for hanging a banner on the wall of a dining hall at Eskiiehirand’s Anadolu University Yunus Emre campus on Sept. 23, 2014 which featured a photo of Erdogan and read, and”Dictators are toppled on the streets.andquot
According to the Turkish daily Radikal, the judge who heard the case against the two university students, Vedat Karakurt, stated in the order that the term and”dictatorand” is not an insult but merely political criticism, since the Turkish Language Association (TDK) defines a dictator as someone who has absolute political power.
The Eskiiehir court earlier gave a suspended prison sentence of 11 months and 20 days to three other students for hanging the same banner on another wall on the campus on the same day in 2014.
Hundreds of people have recently been charged and some have been detained after being accused of insulting Erdogan since he was elected president in August of last year. Anti-government journalists and public figures 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 governmentand’s views.
Dozens of people, including media figures Sedef Kabai, Hidayet Karaca and Mehmet Baransu, high school students, activists and Merve Banduyanduksaraandc — a former Miss Turkey — have been prosecuted for insulting Erdogan on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Todayand’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bandulent Kenei was arrested by the Istanbul 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. Keneiand’s arrest attracted worldwide condemnation with a number of press organizations and journalists in Turkey denouncing the arrest ruling, saying that it goes against the principle of media freedom.
The law that makes insulting the president a criminal offense has become an intimidation tactic used against people who are vocal in their criticism of Erdogan.