Turkish columnist put on trial for insulting Erdoğan
HÜRRİYET photoThe trial of prominent Turkish columnist Cengiz Çandar, accused of “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in seven opinion pieces, was opened and immediately adjourned in Istanbul on April 6.
Çandar, a veteran columnist of the recently-closed news website Radikal, faces up to four years in prison on charges of insulting the president in columns published between July 26 and Aug. 19, 2015.
His next appearance in court, where he will be tried for violating controversial Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), has been set for May 31.
During his first appearance, Çandar declined to testify, saying the Constitutional Court was due to discuss the article at a meeting on April 7, which might directly affect his case.
He also stated that Erdoğan had applied to court "once every four days and has sued around 2,000 people so far" on "insult" claims, underlining the threat this poses to civil liberties.
As many as 1,845 cases have been opened against people accused of insulting Erdogan since he came to office in 2014.
Ahead of the April 7 trial, Çandar published a column in Radikal announcing his retirement from journalism after 40 years. His column appeared in the online newspaper’s final edition on April 6 before its close.