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Turkish cartoonist jailed for insulting Erdogan

Erdogan has clamped down on dissent since the 2015 failed coup [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 June, 2018

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Turkish police jailed one of the country's most prominent cartoonists to serve out a 14 month sentence first handed down last year on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A prominent Turkish cartoonist was jailed by police to serve out a 14 month sentence first handed down last year on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

Nuri Kurtcebe, 69, was detained and sent to prison on Monday after a police check found him on a bus travelling in the northwestern Turkish city of Yalova, the private Dogan news agency reported. 

His lawyer Erdem Akyuz told the media that the authorities were enforcing the sentence after an appeal was turned down by an upper court.  

Kurtcebe was sentenced to a one year, two months and 15 days jail term for several caricatures he drew in 2015. 

As is customary in Turkey, he had been allowed to remain free while the appeal was pending. But once the appeal was rejected, an arrest warrant was issued.

"What's recognised in all over the world is that artists express their work freely and that politicians, compared to others, are more tolerant to criticism," Akyuz was quoted as saying by Dogan

Akyuz also said that it was not clear in the court's ruling which cartoons or expressions were the source of the charges.

Kurtcebe, whose daily cartoons were published in the Aydinlik newspaper, also drew for a number of publications including Hurriyet and opposition Cumhuriyet newspapers as well as satirical magazine Girgir

Musa Kart, a Cumhuriyet cartoonist who was sentenced to three years and nine months jail in April on charges of aiding outlawed "terrorist organisations" along with several other staff, lashed out at the court's verdict.

"It seems that the ruling party has not yet given up on its idea of neutralising cartoonists with prison sentences," he said, quoted by Cumhuriyet.

"I hope and wish that this political climate deprived of a sense of humour will change on June 25," he said. 

Turkey is heading for parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24 when Erdogan is seeking a new mandate under the expanded powers of a full executive presidency. 

Thousands of Turks, from a top model to high school students, have been prosecuted on charges of insulting Erdogan since he became president in 2014. 

Last week, Turkey angrily hit back at French President Emmanuel Macron over his backing to the right of freedom of expression for a weekly magazine that called Erdogan "The dictator".

A group of pro-Erdogan activists targeted several newsstands in the southern French city of Avignon who were attempting to remove and cover up advertisements for Le Point, the magazine said.

Another poster of the front cover - a portrait of Erdogan with the headline "The Dictator. How far will Erdogan go?" - was also targeted by the activists.

Macron had written on Twitter that the actions of the pro-Erdogan supporters were "totally unacceptable" and such posters could not be removed just because they displeased "the enemies of liberty".

"You cannot put a price on freedom of the press, without it, it's dictatorship," he said.

But is not the first time that Ankara has expressed outrage over a magazine cover - in September 2016 Turkey slammed a special edition of German news magazine Der Spiegel that also described Erdogan as a dictator and had the headline "a country loses its freedom".

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