Turkish police arrest actor after tweet critical of former Erdoğan aide

Turkish police arrested actor Barış Atay on Wednesday after a popular commentator and journalist demanded he be put in his place for comments he made on Twitter about an apology by a former aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for kicking a man protesting Turkey’s worst mining disaster, independent news site Diken reported.

Scores of people have been arrested in Turkey for tweets critical of the president and government under sweeping state of emergency powers put in place in the wake of a 2016 failed coup. The United State and European Union countries have questioned the fairness of June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections to be held during a state of emergency.

The former Erdoğan aide, Yusuf Yerkel, became notorious in Turkey after he was photographed kicking a protester in the wake of the 2013 Soma mining disaster in which 301 people died. Yerkel never faced any charges, but apologised on Monday, on the fourth anniversary of the accident, after the main opposition presidential candidate vowed to hold him to account for the attack.

Atay, who has appeared in a number of film and television roles in Turkey, responded to Yerkel’s apology on Twitter:

‘’You are all going to apologise in tears. When that day comes, we are not going to forget the forgiver, the empathiser and those who decided against a trial! ... You are going to be held accountable for what you’ve done to this country and its people!’’ he wrote.

Journalist and commentator Ahmet Hakan responded to the actor in his Tuesday column, demanding opposition presidential candidates put Atay in his place.

It was not clear what charges Atay might face.