Insulting president cases in Turkey jump by 9,000 percent since 2010 – report

Legal cases on charges of insulting the president have risen by 9,000 percent over the past nine years, a period that coincides with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidency, Kronos 34 news site reported on Wednesday.

Prosecutors filed charges against four people over insulting the president in 2010, but that figure soared to 36,066 in 2019, the site said, citing the Justice Ministry’s Directorate General for Criminal Records and Statistics, whose latest records are for 2019.

Insulting the president is a crime according to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Investigations and convictions on Article 299 have skyrocketed since Erdoğan stepped into office as president in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018, when an executive presidential system was ushered in.

The year 2012 saw the least amount of cases filed over Article 299, Kronos 24 said, with one person facing charges over the crime, and reached a peak in 2016, when Turkey experienced a coup attempt, with 38,254 cases.  

Earlier this month, the Turkish government banned students convicted of insulting Erdoğan from state dormitory facilities, with a new regulation announced in the Official Gazette. The move has sparked criticism from the opposition, who maintain that the facilities should not be available to students at Erdoğan’s discretion.

(This story was corrected to show the figure was 9,000 percent in the headline and lead.)