Case   |   Turkey

Turkish journalist on trial for insulting prime minister

Erol Özkoray, Turkish journalist and author, appeared in court for the third time on June 18, 2014, on charges of insulting the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his book, The Gezi Phenomenon, according to news reports. The book covered the popular anti-government protests that erupted in Turkey in 2013 after the government announced its decision to turn a park in downtown Istanbul into a shopping mall.

In the book, Özkoray cited popular slogans and graffiti that protesters used in street demonstrations, including expressions such as "Tayyip, it is not your fault that you were born" and "You are disgraced, resign!" The citation of the slogans were the basis for the lawsuit against Özkoray, according to news reports.

The prosecution requested a 32-month prison term for the journalist, news reports said. In addition to the insult charge, the prosecution claimed that Özkoray violated an article of Turkey's penal code that forbids the "denigration of the Turkish nation," according to local press reports.

"[The slogans, for which I am prosecuted] belong to the 6 million people who revolted across Turkey. They are therefore anonymous. Attributing them to me and me alone is a judicial travesty," Özkoray said in a statement in his defense, according to reports.

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