Thursday, October 23, 2014

No freedom of speech in Turkey

Musa Kart is a Turkish cartoonist. In February he published a cartoon criticising Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's cover-up of a corruption probe. Now, he's being prosecuted for it:

Turkish prosecutors have filed an indictment against a famous cartoonist working for the Cumhuriyet daily over a caricature he drew criticizing then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's attempts to cover up a graft probe that shook the country late last year, seeking up to nine years and 10 months in prison for the cartoonist.

Cumhuriyet reported on Monday that according to the indictment filed by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, Erdoğan filed a criminal complaint against cartoonist Musa Kart for insulting him and slandering him via the media in a caricature that was published in the daily's Feb. 1, 2014, edition. The press bureau of the prosecutor's office initially ruled that there were no grounds for legal action over the caricature. However, upon objections from Erdoğan's lawyer, the Bakırköy 14th High Criminal Court ruled that the cartoon went beyond the boundaries of criticism and revoked the initial decision. The indictment filed afterward calls for a prison sentence of up to nine years and 10 months for Kart. The court will begin to hear Kart's case on Oct. 23.

Meanwhile, the targets of the corruption probe which inspired the cartoon have been allowed to walk free. The message is clear: in Turkey, corruption is not a crime - but criticising it is.