High school student arrested for ‘insulting’ Turkish president freed pending trial
The young student hugs his mother after his release. AA PhotoA 16-year-old student arrested on charges of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been released pending trial following an objection filed by his lawyers after the case stirred national controversy.
The teenager, identified only by his initials M.E.A., will still face trial if the Justice Ministry approves a prosecution, but without remaining under custody during the process.
He was met by his parents as he left the main courthouse building in the city and said his political activism would continue.
A member of an online youth group calling themselves Democrat High School Students, M.E.A. is accused of allegedly insulting Erdoğan for reportedly saying he considered him as “the leader of corruption, bribery and theft” during a speech he made in his hometown of Konya, in Central Anatolia.
Many saw the ruling as an attempt to intimidate the opposition, while the mother of the teenager called it a “disgrace,” slamming the court for a decision she described as “inexplicable.”
The student will face up to four years in prison if he is convicted on charges of insulting the president, according to the Turkish Penal Code. But any trial on such charges has to be initially approved in prior by the Justice Ministry, the legislation states.
M.E.A., who was detained by police officers while he was at school, pled not guilty, arguing that he did not insult the president.
“My son has not robbed. He has committed no ignominious crime. Bu they took him from school as if he was an armed terrorist,” Nazmiye Gök said.
“The arrest decision is a disgrace. Because he is still a child, but they sent him to jail while he has to be at school,” she added.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, however, expressed his support for the detention, saying, “Everyone should show respect to the office of president, whoever he is.”