Turkish journo gets 21 months for ‘insulting’ Erdoğan, appeals

Barış İnce, editor for the leftist daily Birgün, received a 21 months long prison sentence from an Istanbul court March 8 for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and appealed the verdict. The journalist will not be put under arrest unless the high court approves the verdict.

On October 20, 2014, İnce was on trial as the responsible editor for Birgün, with charges of “defamation” and “violation of secrecy” regarding his newspaper’s coverage of corruption allegations against then-Prime Minister Erdoğan and his son Bilal. He has presented a written defense which featured an acrostic; the first letters of the each paragraph read “Tayyip the thief” (Hırsız Tayyip) from top to bottom. İnce has personally stated the existence of the acrostic. The defense text was also the headline story of the next day’s Birgün with the acrostic included.

This turned into an investigation for insulting the president which led to İnce standing in front of another court on June 2, 2015 with that charge. The 2nd Istanbul Criminal Court for General Jurisdiction sentenced the journalist to 21 months in prison on March 8 and did not delay the sentence. İnce’s legal defense appealed to the verdict at the Supreme Court of Appeals which will answer on a yet undetermined date.