Turkish prosecutor indicts French journalists over Erdogan-mocking caricature

Turkish prosecutor indicts French journalists over Erdogan-mocking caricature
2 min read
A Turkish prosecutor called for four French journalists to be sentenced to up to four years in prison over a cartoon mocking Erdogan
The journalists mocked Recep Tayyip Erdogan [Getty]
A Turkish prosecutor on Friday called for four French journalists to be sentenced to up to four years in prison over a cartoon mocking President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that deepened a diplomatic spat.

The cartoon, which depicted Erdogan looking up a woman's skirt while drinking beer in his underwear and saying "Ooh, the Prophet," was published last year in the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The Turkish state-owned news agency Anadolu identified the four journalists as cartoonist Alice Petit and three managers of the famous magazine -- Gerard Biard, Julien Serignac and Laurent Sourisseau, also known as Riss.

The indictment, which must be approved by the court in order for a trial to take place, states that the "vulgar, obscene and insulting" cartoon had nothing to do with freedom of expression or the press.

Erdogan had described the image after it was published as a "disgusting attack" carried out by "scoundrels."

The incident took place amid a deepening diplomatic row between France and Turkey, with Erdogan accusing his counterpart Emmanuel Macron of being against Muslims for having defended the right of cartoonists to draw the prophet Mohammed.

Such cartoons have been published by Charlie Hebdo, whose Paris office was attacked in 2015 by Islamist extremists, leaving 12 people dead.

The announcement of the indictment Friday came several days after Macron suggested Turkey would seek to interfere in France's next election and amid a row over the financing by a pro-Turkish association of a mosque in the eastern French city of Strasbourg.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Friday denounced the charges against the four Charlie Hebdo journalists as an attempt by Ankara to "extend censorship beyond Turkey's borders."

Turkey has ranked 154 out of 180 countries in the RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

Dozens of journalists in the country have been arrested and several opposition media outlets have been forced to shut down in recent years or been  hauled to court.

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