Erdogan vows punishment over alleged insult by journalist

AFP , AP , Thursday 27 Jan 2022

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised that the well-known TV presenter and journalist "Sedef Kabas", will be punished for insulting him during her appearance on the Tele1 news channel, said on Wednesday.

Sedef Kabas
Police officers escort Sedef Kabas, a well-known Turkish journalist, before her appearance at court in Istanbul, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022.

Police detained Sedef Kabas at her home at 2:00 am on Saturday, just hours after she aired the comments and then posted them on Twitter to her 900,000 followers.

Under the insult law, tens of thousands have been prosecuted for targeting Erdogan since he became president in 2014 after more than a decade as prime minister.

Kabas, 53, has hosted a series of high-profile TV shows over a career spanning three decades.

She was formally arrested after appearing in court.

"This offence will not go unpunished," Erdogan said in an interview aired on private television channel NTV.

"It is our duty to protect the respect of my function, of the presidency," he said.

"It has nothing to do with freedom of expression."

He slammed a suggestion by the opposition Republican People's Party that the crime of insulting the president, which carries a jail sentence of one to four years, should be scrapped.

The Turkish journalists' union has called Kabas' arrest a "serious attack on freedom of expression".

Opposition party leader Meral Aksener used a hashtag in support of Kabas. "This mindset will go and justice will again come to Turkey,'' she wrote.

Rights groups routinely accuse Turkey of undermining media freedom by arresting journalists and shutting down critical media outlets, especially since Erdogan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 153rd out of 180 in its 2021 press freedom index.

Since 2014, more than 35,500 cases have been filed over insulting Erdogan, resulting in nearly 13,000 convictions, according to figures from the Justice Ministry.

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