Turkish man arrested after passerby says he heard him insulting the president

Turkish police have arrested a man a passerby said he had overheard insulting the president while talking on the phone, the Turkish Armenian newspaper Agos said on Thursday.

It said a passerby reported Sayat Morboyacı, an ethnic Armenian Turkish citizen, to the police accusing him of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Police immediately took Morboyacı into custody after the person’s testimony.

In a statement Morboyacı sent to his family and lawyer, he said the anonymous testimony was slander and did not reflect the truth.

Thousands have been prosecuted in Turkey for insulting the president, including journalists, authors, politicians, a famous football player, and even schoolchildren. The charge carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.