An Istanbul court on Sept. 15 issued an arrest warrant for prominent Kurdish folk singer Ferhat Tunç to obtain the artist’s defense in a case concerning charges of “insulting the president,” Mezopotamya news agency reported.
Last year, Tunç had announced that he was leaving Turkey, saying that the Turkish authorities had pointed him “as a target” due to several lawsuits launched against him.
Tunç is being tried in a total of seven cases, including three that have been initiated on charges of “insulting the president.” Other charges against the singer are “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “inciting people into hatred and animosity.” Together, the charges of all seven chases amount to more than 20 years of imprisonment.
One of the cases concerns Tunç’s Twitter posts in 2016 allegedly “insulting the president.” The trial against the singer continued at Büyükçekmece 14th Criminal Court of First Instance on Sept. 15. The singer was not present at the hearing and was represented by his lawyer Fatma Hopikoğlu.
The court had previously asked Germany, where Tunç resides, for “judicial assistance” concerning the singer’s case. Germany however turned down the Turkish authorities’ request saying that “freedom of speech is an indispensable right” and “the fullfillment of such a request would be in violation of the constitutional order of the Federal Republic of Germany.”
The Turkish prosecutors then demanded that an arrest warrant be issued for Tunç for his testimony to be taken. The court accepted the prosecutors’ demand and adjourned the hearing to Feb. 23, 2021.