President Erdoğan withdrawing lawsuits filed for insult
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he is withdrawing all lawsuits against people charged with insulting him.
Speaking at a ceremony on July 29 to commemorate the people killed during the July 15 failed coup attempt, Erdoğan said he was inspired by the feelings of unity in the wake of the failed coup.
"For one time only, I will be forgiving and withdrawing all cases against the many disrespects and insults that have been leveled against me," he said.
Erdoğan described the move as a "new beginning."
"I feel that if we do not make use of this opportunity correctly, then it will give the people the right to hold us by the throat," he added.
"So I feel that all factions of society, politicians first and foremost, will behave accordingly with this new reality, this new sensitive situation before us."
According to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code, it is a criminal offense to insult the president. The offense carries a jail sentence of between one and four years.
Since being elected president in Turkey’s first public presidential elections in 2014, more than 2,000 people – including celebrities, journalists and high school students – have faced charges for “insulting” Erdoğan.
Criminal complaints regarding the offense have also been filed against main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş.
After he was elected as prime minister for his third term back in 2011, Erdoğan similarly withdrew insult cases he had earlier opened against Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli for their alleged offenses against him during the election campaign period.