The Turkish judicial system is “under tremendous pressure to prosecute any criticism of Erdogan”
Over 3.800 people in Turkey received prison sentences for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year, according to a new report. The Turkish judicial system handed out over 3.831 prison sentences for the charge, up 87 percent from 2018 when 2.046 people were sentenced, according to the Turkish news outlet BirGun on Tuesday. Turkey’s penal code criminalizes insulting the president, with an offender typically facing a prison term of up to four years. The sentence can be increased if the insult is expressed in the public sphere. As arrests have continued to increase over the past four years, human rights organizations have called on Turkey to end prosecutions for acts of “insulting the president,” and accused the government of using the law to silence dissenting voices. The Turkish judicial system is “under tremendous pressure to prosecute any criticism of Erdogan,” according to Henri Barkey, a fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The most important problem is that the judicial system is no longer independent in Turkey – it basically follows directives from the presidential palace,” Barkey said in an interview with Al Arabiya English.