Seventeen-Year-Old Arrested for Insulting Turkish President Erdogan

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Although a 14-year-old offender was recently released from detention due to his tender age, apparently 17 is old enough to do hard time for mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Facebook.

That is the predicament a teenage construction worker from Tekirdag finds himself in, according to Hurriyet Daily News. The police investigated his Facebook post, a local court issued an arrest warrant, and the boy known by the initials “F.E.” was hauled off to prison in Tekirdag.

“Reports have said the investigation into the incident is ongoing,” Hurriyet adds. When the crime is insulting Erdogan, it’s prison first, investigation second, and, maybe, eventually, a trial.

Those who have been following these free-speech crackdowns in Turkey may recall that lengthy investigations are often conducted to examine the fine details of anti-Erdogan speech to determine if it is truly intended as an insult; for example, the doctor who got busted for stating that Erdogan looks like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings mounted a defense based on the notion that Gollum was more of a tragic hero than a villain, so comparing Erdogan to the ruined hobbit did not besmirch the Turkish strongman’s character.

AFP reports young F.E. was “detained at his home in western Tekirdag province after someone called the police emergency line to complain about his Facebook posts.”

AFP recalls another 17-year-old was charged with the same offense last December and received an 11-month suspended sentence.

It has been a rough month for irreverent Turkish hardhats, as just last week construction worker Dilaver Sarı, a father of two and member of the pro-Kurdish HDP party, was charged with insulting Erdogan, as well as disseminating the “propaganda of a terrorist organization.”


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