An Istanbul court has sentenced journalist Sabahattin Önkibar to 11 months and 20 days in prison over charges of “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his YouTube account, according to reporting by the daily Cumhuriyet.
Following the court’s ruling, Önkıbar said that his remarks did not have any elements of crime and that the sentence was given to wear down and oppress critics.
“I ask the President. Both he and I reside in Ankara, and the place where the alleged crime has been committed is Ankara. When the situation is like this, why did he persistently open the case at the Istanbul Anatolian Courthouse and why was the trial held there despite the appeals? What is it behind this?” he asked.
A tool commonly deployed by Ankara to reprimand critics of the government, insult charges often concern comments about the president, although citizens have been accused of insulting the government's values as well.
The European Court of Human Rights said last year the law on insulting the president, under which thousands have been prosecuted, should be changed.