Famous Turkish actor quizzed over 'death threats to Erdogan'

Famous Turkish actor quizzed over 'death threats to Erdogan'
3 min read
24 December, 2018
Metin Akpinar, also a well-known comedian in Turkey, is accused of making "insulting" statements that alluded to Erdogan.

The comedian was accused of making "insulting" statements that alluded to Erdogan [Getty]
A famous Turkish actor testified to Istanbul prosecutors on Monday after authorities opened a probe into whether comments he made on television threatened President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with death, local media reported.

Metin Akpinar, also a well-known comedian in Turkey, is accused of making "insulting" statements that alluded to Erdogan.

"If we do not reach this (democracy), like what happened to all forms of fascism, the leader might be hung from his feet or maybe poisoned in the cellars or meet the same end as other leaders in the past," he reportedly said on television on Friday.

The Istanbul public prosecutor said on Sunday that Akpinar was being investigated over "insulting comments that targeted the Turkish president with coup and death threats".

Akpinar, 77, and another Turkish actor, Mujdat Gezen, had been taken by police officers separately to give testimony in the same investigation.

Akpinar had also claimed on opposition Halk TV that any leader who "turned to Russia except Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) left office" through coups.

Ataturk was the founder of modern Turkey.

Turkey has witnessed three military coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980. In 1997, an army-led campaign forced the government to resign and then in July 2016, there was an attempted overthrow of Erdogan blamed on a US-based Muslim preacher.

Akpinar said democracy was the "only option to save Turkey from polarisation".

Gezen, 75, was more direct in his remarks against Erdogan on the same programme: "He tells the people 'know your place'. Look Recep Tayyip Erdogan, you cannot test our patriotism. Know your place."

The investigation into the men came after the president said on Sunday: "They should be brought to account for this by the judiciary."

Erdogan hit out at the "so-called artists" during a speech in Istanbul. "We cannot leave this business without giving a response, they will pay the price."

Thousands of Turks including artists and journalists have been prosecuted in recent years over allegedly insulting Erdogan, although most have not been imprisoned.

In June, a prominent Turkish cartoonist was jailed by police to serve out a 14 month sentence first handed down last year on charges of insulting Erdogan.

Nuri Kurtcebe, 69, was sentenced to a one year, two months and 15 days jail term for several caricatures he drew in 2015. 

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

Just a week earlier, 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".

Agencies contributed to this report.

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