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Turkish prosecution demands 11 years in jail for TV journalist

Sedef Kabas was arrested last month on charges of 'insulting' President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Sedef Kabas being taken into an Istanbul courthouse last month.
Sedef Kabas being taken into an Istanbul courthouse last month (Facebook/Aylin Nazliaka)

A Turkish prosecutor's office demanded 11 years in jail for well-known journalist Sedef Kabas on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and two ministers in his cabinet, Turkish news agencies reported on Friday.

Last month, a court ordered Kabas, a 52-year-old television journalist who mainly covers Turkish politics, to be jailed pending trial on the charge of insulting Erdogan, using a law under which tens of thousands have been prosecuted.

The prosecutor also asked Kabas to be charged with insulting Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailoglu for a combined jail term of 11 years.

The alleged insult was in the form of a proverb that Kabas expressed both on an opposition television channel and on her Twitter account, drawing condemnation from government officials.

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Earlier on Friday, The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) and 37 press freedom groups and journalists called on Turkey to release Kabas.

"The unfounded imprisonment of the noted journalist was met with widespread condemnation from local and international press freedom organizations as well as rights organizations and press freedom defenders," the joint statement said.

"Yet, the Turkish government and judiciary appear relentless and Sedef remains behind bars," it added.

Turkey's law on insulting the president carries a jail sentence of between one and four years.

Last October, Europe's top human rights court called on Turkey to change the legislation after ruling that a person's detention under the law violated freedom of expression.

Thousands have been charged and sentenced over the crime of insulting Erdogan in the seven years since he moved from being prime minister to becoming the president.

In 2020, 31,297 investigations were launched in relation to the charge; 7,790 cases were filed and 3,325 resulted in convictions, according to justice ministry data. Those numbers were slightly lower than the previous year.

Since 2014, the year Erdogan became president, 160,169 investigations were launched over insulting the president, 35,507 cases were filed and there were 12,881 convictions.

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