A journalist was jailed for 11 months and 20 days over insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on social media in the western province of Izmir, Diken news website reported on Sunday.
Mustafa Yayla (47), was jailed after the Izmır Regional Court of Appeal upheld the sentence given by the Kusadasi 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance in 2018, finding his incarceration justified.
Yayla was apprehended by the police during a regular security control on the traffic on Saturday and sent to the Torbali Prison on the next day due to the court ruling.
In 2016, a Turkish prosecutor launched an investigation into Yayla based on an unnamed notice to the Prime Ministry’s Communications Center (BİMER) over the journalist’s social media post which was claimed to be insulting Erdogan.
According to the controversial Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), “insulting the president” is a crime in Turkey which could result in a four-year prison sentence, and even longer if committed through mass media.
“Turkish courts have convicted thousands of people in the past four years for simply speaking out against the president,” said Benjamin Ward, Europe and Central Asia acting director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) – an independent human rights organization that investigates and reports abuse that occurs all around the world.
The number of people who have been prosecuted and convicted according to Article 299 has risen rapidly since Erdogan assumed the presidency in 2014.
Convictions have increased thirteenfold in the first three years of Erdogan’s tenure when compared to the tenure of the previous president, Abdullah Gul.
Figures released on dogrulukpayi.com are based on official statistics of the Ministry of Justice’s General Directorate of Judicial Records and Statistics.
Accusations of insulting the president have increased from 848 (Gul) to 12,173 (Erdogan), and actual convictions increased from 233 (Gul) to 3,221 (Erdogan).
The number of people prosecuted in 2014 was 132. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, the number of people prosecuted was 1,953, 4,187 and 6,033 respectively. The number of actual convictions was 40 in 2014, 238 in 2015, 884 in 2016 and 2,099 in 2017.