Turkish editor gets 21 month suspended sentence for ‘insulting Erdogan’

Today’s Zaman editor-in-chief Bulent Kenes implied that Erdogan’s late mother would have been ashamed of him

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An Ankara court on Tuesday handed down a 21-month suspended jail sentence to an editor of a leading English-language Turkish daily newspaper after convicting him of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Ankara penal court said that Today’s Zaman editor-in-chief Bulent Kenes was guilty of insulting Erdogan in a tweet implying his late mother would have been ashamed of him had she lived to see what he was doing to Turkey.

Erdogan’s mother Tenzile died in 2011, with the Turkish strongman grieving publicly for his loss.

The tweet was posted in July 2014 when Erdogan was serving his last months as premier just before he won presidential elections in August.

The case came amid growing concern over the spiraling numbers of journalists, bloggers and ordinary people who are being taken to court on charges of insulting Erdogan and other top officials.

In another case that has garnered huge attention, model and former Miss Turkey beauty queen Merve Buyuksarac went on trial in May on charges of insulting Erdogan.

In his defense, Kenes argued that he was protected by Turkish law on freedom of speech and also that his tweet had not specifically mentioned Erdogan.

But the court rejected his arguments, giving him a sentence of one year and nine months, state media and Today’s Zaman reported.

However the court decided to suspend the sentence for five years, the reports added.

Today’s Zaman, which is the English version of the Turkish language Zaman daily, is close to the movement of the Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan who has become his sworn enemy.

Following stunning corruption allegations in 2013 against Erdogan's inner circle, thousands of followers of Gulen were purged from the police force and judiciary.

Media rights groups -- which have long criticized Turkey for locking up journalists -- have expressed concern over a further decline in press freedoms since Erdogan became president.

Erdogan caused outrage in the run-up to Turkey’s June 7 elections by saying the secular Cumhuriyet newspaper editor-in-chief Can Dundar would “pay a heavy price” over a front-page story which it said proved Turkey had sent arms to rebels in Syria.

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