University student sentenced to jail for retweeting satirical article
AA PhotoA university student in southern Turkey has been handed a one-year suspended sentence for retweeting a satirical article about a governor from Zaytung, a mock news portal in Turkey, daily Cumhuriyet has reported.
A court in the southern province of Adana sentenced Meral Tutcalı, who is a sophomore at the sociology department of Anadolu University in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir, to one year in jail for retweeting the story about former Adana Gov. Hüseyin Avni Coş, who made nationwide headlines after being caught on camera angrily denouncing a protester as a “gavat” – roughly translated as “pimp” – in November 2013.
The court sentenced Tutcalı for “insulting a public official for his duty,” but later decreased the jail term to 10 months for good conduct during the hearings before also deciding to defer the formal announcement of the verdict.
If Tutcalı does not commit a similar crime in the following five years, her sentence will not be executed.
Tutcalı retweeted Zaytung’s news story from Jan. 6, 2014, which reported: “Adana Governor Hüseyin Avni Coş has announced his autonomy. He is more influential than RTE [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the then-prime minister and currently the president of Turkey.]”
Zaytung, which is modeled on The Onion, is a website that publishes false and satirical stories in a journalistic style, carrying the motto: “honest, independent, immoral news.”
Tutcalı’s house was twice raided by police for her retweet, while the woman was also sued on Coş’s complaint.
Speaking after the decision was announced, Tutcalı said she was not expecting the decision and was shocked about it.
“I see this decision as a part of the policy to intimidate and pressure people who think differently. I believe I do not deserve such punishment. I have not lost my faith in the upcoming bright days,” said Tutcalı.
In November 2013, Coş first denied accusations that he said “gavat,” claiming that he said the similar-sounding “kavas,” which means “rambler.” However, he later confessed that his “tongue had slipped.”
The incident sparked a strong reaction from opposition parties, prompting Erdoğan to robustly defend the Adana governor, while admitting that what he did was “inappropriate.”
Coş was later transferred from Adana near the Syrian border to Sakarya in the Marmara region in May 2014.