A German man is facing trial in Turkey for “insulting Turkishness” during a disagreement with a Turkish citizen, according to media reports.
The man, identified as Kristian B., is a 63-year-old German dentist, according to Ahval news, which cited leading Turkish news outlet Sozcu.
If found guilty, Kristian would face a six month to three-year prison sentence in line with Article 301 of Turkey’s penal code, which criminalizes public denigration of “Turkishness, the Republic or Grand National Assembly of Turkey.”
The alleged offense occurred at Antalya Airport’s baggage carousel when Kristian questioned the democratic nature of Turkey.
“This is what you Turks are like. This can’t be considered a democratic country any way,” Kristian allegedly told a Turkish national, who was filming the incident and then gave the footage to Turkish police.
Turkish authorities detained and released Kristian, but have kept his German passport and additional documents pending trial, according to Sozcu.
Imprisonment for insulting Turkish leaders, past and present
Earlier this year, Turkish authorities arrested a journalist for “insulting” a medieval Turkish sultan on Twitter.
Freelance Turkish journalist Oktay Candemir told Al Arabiya English he was arrested, and his house raided due to “a tweet that satirized Ottoman history.”
Candemir now faces the charge of “insulting the memory of a dead person,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), for his September 3 tweet about a historical drama series produced by Turkey’s state news agency TRT.
“Authorities allege that the tweet insulted Ertugrul Ghazi, a sultan who died around 1280,” according to CPJ citing Turkish reports.
Candemir, who could face up to two years in prison if convicted, said the tweet intended to make fun of the television series - not to insult historical figures.
Insulting the current Turkish leader also comes with penalty.
Over 3,800 people in Turkey received prison sentences for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year, Turkish media outlets Cumhuriyet and BirGun reported in September.
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.