Turkish man arrested over street interview

A Turkish man who spoke to a YouTuber in a street interview was arrested in the southern Antalya province, news website T24 reported on Wednesday.

İsmail Demirbaş had been detained in late October for the first time, over a street interview where he said Turkey needed snap elections “so we can rid ourselves of the bloodsucking vampires in this system.”

Demirbaş had also likened Turkey’s Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun to the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, and said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should face treason charges “rapidly, very rapidly, without any obstacles, right now, at once.”

The Antalya resident had been released on parole a few days later, but was detained again on Oct. 27 for speaking to the media, according to news website TR 724. He told reporters that the police pressured him, and accused him of belonging to the Wahhabi sect of Islam.

“They said I was being egged on, and somebody was making me say these things. Can’t I have my own opinions?” Demirbaş said. “They treated me like a terrorist. They try to intimidate us for defending the Republic of Turkey, but I will continue to say what I believe in.”

Demirbaş was released on house arrest after the second detention. When he went to the court house to object to the ruling, he was arrested and placed in the Antalya prison, Duvar reported.

“My father did nothing wrong,” the man’s son Melih Demirbaş told Duvar. “Unfortunately, in our country people get arrested for expressing opinions.”

The YouTuber who conducted the interview, whose channel name translates to One’s Own Reporter (“Kendine Muhabir”) tweeted on Wednesday that he was called in for questioning over another interview.

“Who would be disturbed that somebody gave a microphone to the people, to hear what citizens think, believe – whether those ideas are right or wrong?” the reported said.

In the second interview, an elderly man says that Turkish Finance Berat Albayrak’s resignation was “probably guided by his father-in-law,” referring to Erdoğan, calls the Turkish government “a family company,” and says there is a dictatorship in Turkey.

The man goes on to liken Erdoğan to Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, saying “Gaddafi came 40 years ago with a revolution, he died dragged on the streets. Saddam’s dictatorship ended with him dying on the streets as well. This one will be dragged on the streets as well.”

“I would say the same things, even if they put me in prison,” the man says at the end of his interview. “I’m not afraid. If I lied, (I dare them) to prove it.”

The unidentified man was also called in for questioning, according to the YouTuber who said the man had still been at the police headquarters as he was leaving.