A Turkish court has issued eight arrest warrants, including one against a former member of the Turkish Olympic swimming team, for tweeting comments against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he tested positive for COVID.
A Turkish court has issued eight arrest warrants, including one against a former swimmer who also competed in the Olympics for tweeting comments against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he had positive test result for COVID.
The 67-year-old Turkish president announced on Saturday that he and his wife had developed a “mild” form of the disease after a visit to Ukraine and would be working from home in the coming days. He has since posted messages on Twitter thanking foreign officials, including Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, for sending him wishes for a speedy recovery.
But on a wave of wishes, authorities on Saturday revealed an account belonging to Deria Bigikundzu, a swimmer who has competed six times in the Olympics. The 45-year-old athlete wrote in his post that he was preparing a huge amount of halva, a sweet that is traditionally distributed at funerals.
The Istanbul prosecutor’s office announced today that it has issued an arrest warrant for Bigikundzu as part of an investigation into “criminal social media posts” about the president’s illness. A total of eight warrants were issued and four arrests were made.
Ankara’s prosecutor’s office also launched an investigation into “insulting the president” and “ridiculing religious values” in connection with such reports.
Turkish authorities have launched 160,000 investigations into insulting the president since Erdogan became president in 2014. So far, the courts have issued 3,625 convictions. In late January, journalist Sedef Kampas was arrested at her home in Istanbul for making comments on a TV show that were deemed offensive to the president. She then posted the same comments on her Twitter account. Days later, Erdogan warned that “this crime will not go unpunished” because “our duty is to defend respect for the position, the presidency” and “this has nothing to do with freedom of speech.”
Sources: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ, AFP.