Turkish journalist Ender İmrek acquitted in 'insult' case concerning Emine Erdoğan's Hermes handbag

Journalist Ender İmrek has been acquitted of charges of “insulting” Emine Erdoğan brought against him over a 2019 article in which he criticized the first lady for appearing in public with a $50,000 designer handbag.

 Duvar English

A Turkish court has acquitted Ender İmrek, journalist at the left-wing Evrensel newspaper, of charges of insulting first lady Emine Erdoğan.

The charges against İmrek concerned his article “The Hermes purse was shining bright” published on June 29, 2019. The indictment had claimed that İmrek insulted Erdoğan by “not praising her.”

In his article, İmrek criticized Erdoğan for using the bag that cost $50,000 when people in the country are suffering from increased unemployment and poverty.

The price of the bag corresponded to 144 minimum wages when she was using it in 2019.

The third hearing of the case took place on Dec. 2 at the Istanbul 2nd Court of First Instance.

İmrek said in defense that Hande Fırat, a pro-gov't columnist from daily Hürriyet, had claimed that the Hermes bag in question was in fact a knock-off. He said that his criticism of extravagancy cannot be counted as an insult unless it has clear denigrating statements.

“This article shows that Emine Erdoğan came under public pressure and felt the need to give an explanation with regards to the bag,” İmrek said.

Lawyer Yıldız İmrek also addressed the court saying that “not praising Erdoğan” cannot be considered as a crime in a state of law.

“The indictment says two things. The first is that Emine Erdoğan cannot be compared with anyone else. And the second is that it is obligatory to praise Emine Erdoğan and not praising her is a crime. This cannot be accepted,” said lawyer İmrek.

“Not even a single sentence of insult has been found in my client's article. It is clear that this article stays within the framework of freedom of press and expression,” she said.