Turkish ex-beauty queen on trial for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

The former Miss Turkey is accused of sharing a poem that featured insults aimed at Erdogan on Instagram

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A former Turkish beauty queen has testified in front of an Istanbul prosecutor for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a poem she shared on her Instagram account.

A local Turkish news agency reported Wednesday that the poem shared by Merve Büyüksaraç, a model who was crowned as Miss Turkey in 2006, had lyrics adapted from the Turkish national anthem and featured insults directed at Erdogan.

Büyüksaraç told the Istanbul court that she did not intend to insult the Turkish president, a report by Hurriyet Daily News said.

“I did not personally adapt the poem titled ‘The Poem of the Chief’. I shared it because it was funny to me. I did not intend to insult Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” she said in statements quoted by the newspaper from the Cihan news agency.

The model said she deleted the post after she was warned that it could trigger a possible prosecution.

When contacted, a prosecutor's spokesman said they could not comment on the case.

Turkey experienced a decline in internet freedom in 2014, according to a report by a U.S.-based rights watchdog. It was rated as “Partly Free” in the report by Freedom House.

Turkey frequently orders blackouts of media coverage of controversial issues.

The country faced worldwide backlash after it temporarily blocked Twitter and YouTube last year after both platforms were used by opponents of Erdogan to post allegations of corruption within his inner circle.

It also blocked on Wednesday the publication of reports claiming Turkish intelligence services delivered arms to Syrian Islamist rebels last year.

In addition, websites sharing the new cover of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad, were blocked.

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