An Istanbul court of July 8 sentenced Cem Şimşek, news director of daily Evrensel, to 11 months and 20 days in prison for “insulting the President” over a 2015 news report in which he evaluated German cartoonists’ drawings of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to a report by his employer.
The court also deferred the sentence meaning the journalist will be jailed unless he is convicted of another crime within the next five years.
Şimşek said that the court's ruling is a decision of censorship aimed to curb freedom of speech and thought. “This jail sentence is not independent of the advertisement ban, fines and unlawful rulings of access ban targeting our newspaper,” he said.
Şimşek's lawyer said that they will appeal the ruling, which came six years after the publication of the relevant article.
“Although there are previous rulings of the Court of Cassation and European Court of Human Rights which say politicians need to accept the harsh criticism against them as much as the applauds they receive, judges are not implementing these decisions,” lawyer Devrim Avcı was quoted as saying by Evrensel.
Scores of journalists remain behind bars in Turkey or face baseless prosecutions in retaliation for their work. Experts say that the government continues to instrumentalize a justice system that does not guarantee basic due process rights in court.