Journalist Sentenced to Prison for “Information on Erdoğan Cartoons”

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Journalist Cem Şimşek was sentenced to 11 months and 20 days in prison for “insulting the president”.

Şimşek, the news director of the daily Evrensel, was on trial for a report entitled “German cartoonists have drawn Erdoğan badly”.

On trial for this report published in 2015, Şimşek was given a suspended prison sentence for allegedly insulting the president and chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

As reported by the Media and Legal Studies Association (MLSA), Cem Şimşek’s lawyer, Devrim Avcı-Özkurt, and Erdoğan’s lawyer, Furkan Berk Biberoğlu, attended the final hearing which was held before the 27th Bakırköy Criminal Court of First Instance. The public was not allowed into the courtroom due to measures regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

While the prosecution reiterated its final opinion on the charges and demanded the journalist’s sanction, Erdoğan’s lawyer Biberoğlu also called for a sanction. Speaking, Avcı-Özkurt demanded an acquittal as the elements of the crime did not arise.

In rendering its decision, the court council first decided that journalist Cem Şim shouldek should be sentenced to 1 year in prison for “insulting the president” in accordance with article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). On the grounds that the act was committed publicly, the court increased the prison sentence to 1 year and 2 months. Taking into account “the defendant’s past, his social relations and the potential impacts of the prison sentence on him”, the court reduced the prison sentence to 11 months and 20 days.

The prison sentence has been postponed.

Avcı: They circumvent the press law

Speaking after the delivery of the decision, lawyer Devrim Avcı recalled that the lawsuit had been brought following a report published in 2015 and criticized the fact that a sentence was handed down for six years later.

She also defined as “circumventing the press law” the fact that the investigation was carried out against the report published on the Evrensel website, rather than against the printed version of the newspaper:

Even if the daily is consulted at the prosecution every day, there is unfortunately this practice of “We saw this news on the Internet and filed a criminal complaint immediately”.

Noting that the corresponding cartoons have also been published in other media, Avcı noted: “Even though there are judgments of the Court of Cassation and the European Court of Human Rights (CtHT), indicating that the politicians should accept harsh criticism as much as they accept praise for themselves, judges do not enforce these judgments. “

The lawyer said they would appeal the decision. (HA / SD)



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