Turkey: 83-year-old actor faces prison for tweets “insulting” President Erdoğan

This statement was originally published on bianet.org on 24 August 2021.

Stage actor Genco Erkal faces up to 4 years and 8 months in prison for “insulting the president” because of Twitter posts.

A citizen had reported the artist via email on July 20, 2016. Examining the tip-off, the Bureau of Press Offenses of the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office concluded that three tweets posted by Erkal contained insults against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Two of the tweets were posted in 2016 and one was posted last year.

The prosecutor’s office demanded a prison sentence of from 1 year and 2 months to 4 years and 8 months for the 83-year-old actor and sent the indictment to the İstanbul 16th Penal Court of First Instance.

In a tweet he posted on June 7, 2016, Erkal says, “Instead of interfering with whether families will have children or not, let’s show your diploma. Let us see it, even if it comes from a rector friend of yours, even if it is fake,” referring to the decades-long allegations that Erdoğan did not graduate from university.

In another tweet on November 16, 2016, Erkal says, “Presidential system is not enough. Let there be a Turkish-type shepherding system.”

“Erdoğan said ‘We plan to complete the works in Ayder Plateau by 2022.’ Alas, he decided to finish off Ayder Plateau, a natural wonder. Everything he touches dries up and turns into concrete,” the actor wrote on August 16, 2020.

Erkal had testified at the İstanbul Courthouse in the same investigation on April 19. Speaking to reporters later, he had said, “I told them that my job is political theater, that I’ve been doing this for 60 years, that I’m against unfairness, oppression, injustice and bigotry anywhere in the world and that I express my thoughts both on the stage and on social media.”

“I said ‘I’m against the presidential system.’ I said ‘I’m against the restrictions on freedom of expression, people being imprisoned for their thoughts and the slaughter of nature’,” he had said.

Read the article in Turkish

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