Turkish prosecutor launches probe into actors after Erdoğan’s rebuke over ‘fascism’ comments

Turkish prosecutor launches probe into actors after Erdoğan’s rebuke over ‘fascism’ comments

ISTANBUL

A Turkish prosecutor has launched an investigation into two prominent actors over their comments on “fascism,” after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly complained that he was the target of their “death threat.”

Actors Metin Akpınar, 77, and Müjdat Gezen, 75, were hosted by journalist Uğur Dündar on his program on Halk TV Dec. 21.

“I believe that the only solution for us to get rid of this polarization and fights is democracy. If we can’t reach that point, then perhaps the leader will be hanged from his feet like it happened in all other fascisms of the past, or he will be poisoned in a dungeon or live the end of all the other [similar] leaders, but it will be ultimately our own destruction,” Akpınar had said in the program. He had added that all Turkish leaders who “turned toward Russia” in the past were ousted by the military, naming former prime ministers Adnan Menderes and Süleyman Demirel as examples.

Gezen, on the other hand, had directly criticized Erdoğan during the program. “He is rebuking everyone, he is pointing his finger at everybody, he calls people ‘to know their limits.’ Look, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, you cannot test our patriotism. You should know your limit,” he had said.

In return, Erdoğan strongly criticized the two actors during a public speech on Dec. 23. “They say they will take me to the gallows. These are so-called artists. You think you can hang the president of this country? Now go and pay your price at the judiciary,” he said.

Hours after Erdoğan’s statement, the Istanbul Anadolu Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the two actors. According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, the prosecutor said that he will investigate whether Akpınar and Gezen insulted the president or threatened him with coup and death.

Akpınar and Gezen were accompanied by police officers when going to the prosecutor’s office on Dec. 24 to testify as part of the investigation.

Both actors were later released after the court ruled for a ban on overseas travel among other judicial control measures.

“Why do the politicians forget about tolerance? I can actually understand the politicians but I cannot understand the prosecutors who are so quick to act,” Gezen’s attorney Celal Ülgen said.

Akpınar’s attorney Atilla Hekimoğlu, on the other hand, stressed that his client’s statement on television was misinterpreted. “Some media outlets relayed his views as if he was targeting the president. As such, both the public and the president misunderstood them,” he said.

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