Lord of the chains: Prison sentence for Erdogan-Gollum comparison

Lord of the chains: Prison sentence for Erdogan-Gollum comparison
2 min read
24 June, 2016
A Turkish man has been found guilty of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for depicting him as the Gollum character from the Lord of the Rings.
Erdogan has been criticised for his crackdown on freedom of expression [AFP]
A Turkish man who compared President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Lord of the Rings character Gollum, will spend more than a year behind bars.

Rifat Cetin posted three images onto his Facebook account in 2014 comparing Erdogan to the fictional creature from J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels and the hugely successful films.

The court in Antalya sentenced Cetin to a year in prison, suspended for five years.

He was also stripped of his parental rights but is expected to appeal, insisting that the comparison was made when Erdogan was premier at the time, not the president as the verdict suggests.

This is not the first case involving Erdogan and Gollum.

Bilgin Ciftci, a Turkish doctor in the western province of Aydin, is also facing imprisonment for "insulting" the president for the same reason.

These come amid increasing concerns over the imprisonment of journalists, bloggers and others accused of insulting Erdogan.

The renowned Lord of the Rings character Gollum [Getty]

In May, Erdogan launched legal action to prevent the head of German media giant Axel Springer from repeating support for a TV satirist who insulted the Turkish leader.

"It's like a gang rape. When someone starts, all the others follow," Erdogan's German lawyer Ralf Hoecker, who specialises in media cases, told AFP after filing the petition in a court in Cologne.

Hoecker was referring to an open letter published in one of the group's papers in which Axel Springer's chief executive voiced support for the celebrity comedian who accused Erdogan of bestiality and watching child pornography in a satirical poem.

US President Barack Obama has warned that Turkey's approach towards the media is taking it "down a path that would be very troubling" after two leading opposition journalists were put on trial.

In response Erdogan defiantly declared he would not take "lessons in democracy" from the West.

Using a hugely controversial legal article, almost 2,000 people have been prosecuted for "insulting" Erdogan since the former premier became president in August 2014.

Last month, five men were arrested for "insulting" the Turkish president and "harming his reputation".

But the leader has consistently denied cracking down on expression.