Turkish journalist briefly detained over cartoon tweet

Turkish journalist briefly detained over cartoon tweet
2 min read
A journalist from Cumhuriyet was arrested for a cartoon which was said to be insulting to a religious cleric.
Turkish prosecutors are seeking a one-and-half-year jail term [Getty]
A columnist for a top Turkish opposition daily was briefly detained on Wednesday over a tweet of a cartoon depicting a cleaner appearing to disinfect the mind of a religious cleric.

Turkish prosecutors are seeking a one-and-half-year jail term for Cumhuriyet journalist Enver Aysever on charges that his tweet, dating from last year, "denigrated religious values observed by a part of the public".

The cartoon showed a cleaner, dressed in white protective overalls, spraying disinfectant into the cracked-open head of a heavily bearded man who appeared to represent conservative Muslims in Turkey.

Aysever gave a statement to the police after being brought in for questioning on Wednesday and then released, Cumhuriyet said.

"They do this on purpose to taint my reputation and put an end to my columns in Cumhuriyet," the paper quoted Aysever as saying after his release.

Defending the journalist, Canan Kaftancioglu, the Istanbul chairwoman of the main opposition CHP party, tweeted that "under the (ruling) AKP government, humour ... has been banned".

Cumhuriyet -- Turkey's oldest daily, founded in 1924 -- is a thorn in the side of President Recep Tayyip Erodgan's government, seeing many of its journalists land in court. 

The paper is owned by a foundation that ensures its independence, making it one of Turkey's few media outlets not subservient to big industrial holding companies close to Erdogan. 

Read more: In Iraqi Kurdistan, civilians count the cost of Turkey's fight against the PKK

Cumhuriyet riled Turkish officials in 2015 by reproducing a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed in the wake of the deadly attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Turkey is one of the world's leading jailer of journalists, ranking 154th in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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