Turkish man from Erdoğan's hometown detained for criticizing ailing economy

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation against a man from Rize's Güneysu district – the hometown of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – over his criticism of the government's economic policies during a street interview. The man is facing charges of “insulting” the president.

Mehmet Ali Sancaktutan was briefly detained on June 17.

Gençağa Karafazlı / DUVAR

A Turkish man from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's hometown of Güneysu in the Black Sea province of Rize, has been detained after criticizing the government's economic policies.

Mehmet Ali Sancaktutan, 52, is facing charges of “insulting” Erdoğan.

After giving his testimony at the Rize police headquarters on June 17, Sancaktutan was released pending trial.

“My purpose during my talk was to give my reaction to the fact that the economy is not doing well and our situation is bad,” the man said, referring to his street interview in Rize on June 15.

“I told them [the police] that I do not accept the charges. Afterwards they have prepared a release report and I left the police station,” he said.

After his interview was released on YouTube, Sancaktutan started to receive several threats on social media, coming to fear for his life. “I will file a criminal complaint against those swearing at me,” he said.

Sancaktutan said that he cannot grasp how his remarks resulted in an investigation, saying that he did not insult anyone.

“I do not also believe that our president thinks I have insulted him, but despite this, I cannot understand why the prosecutor's office launched an investigation against me on charges of insulting Erdoğan,” he said.

Sancaktutan said that he voted for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the past and now is a member of the Islamist New Welfare Party.

He also said that he was shocked to see his own villagers' reaction against him. “I am called by my friends, neighbors at the village and told, 'They will kick you out of the village,'” he said.