Turkish PM Erdoğan sues Taraf chief editor for 'assault on rights'
ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires | 1/17/2011 12:00:00 AM |
Lawyers for PM Erdoğan have filed a criminal complaint against a newspaper editor, charging him with 'assaulting the personal rights' of the prime minister in his critical columns.
Lawyers for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have filed a criminal complaint against the chief editor of a prominent newspaper, charging him with “assaulting the personal rights” of the prime minister in his critical columns.
The lawsuit centers on a column Ahmet Altan of daily Taraf wrote for his newspaper’s Saturday edition. The column, titled “Erdoğan ve Kof Kabadayılık” (Erdoğan and Empty Bullying), is the latest in a series of critical articles penned by Altan on Erdoğan’s recent statements and political stances.
Criticizing the prime minister for calling the “Monument of Humanity” in Kars, a sculpture dedicated to Turkish-Armenian friendship, a “freak,” Altan asked in his column if the prime minister would dare say the same thing about a statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic. He also questioned Erdoğan’s honesty and bravery, asking why he did not call the military to account for flying jets over Greek airspace during the visit of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.
According to Fatih Şahin and Muammer Cemaloğlu, two of the prime minister’s lawyers, Altan “made extremely deep insults with the intention of assaulting Erdoğan’s personal rights.” In the criminal complaint, the lawyers argued Altan had exceeded the limits of freedom of expression.
Claiming not only the prime minister, but the press and all of society have been “hurt” by Altan’s column, the lawyers have demanded 50,000 Turkish Liras in compensation, plus legal interest starting from the publication date. The complaint was submitted Monday to the chief public prosecutor of Ankara to be transferred to the chief public prosecutor’s office in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district, where Taraf’s office is located.
Taraf is a liberal daily known for its critical stance toward the military. It is sometimes perceived in opposition circles as being too friendly to the government due to its support for Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, on issues the paper perceives to be a part of the demilitarization process of Turkey or European Union accession. Taraf has harshly criticized the government, however, when its editorial staff believes the AKP is retreating from these two positions.