Ruling announcing 11-month sentence for 17-year-old raises questions over freedom of speech.
A Turkish court on Friday handed a suspended prison sentence of 11 months and 20 days to a 17-year-old schoolboy convicted of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a case that raised new concerns about freedom of speech in the country.
The boy, identified as M.E.A., was convicted of “insulting the president” while speaking at a public meeting in Konya city in December 2014. He had then been held in prison for two days after being arrested at school in the middle of lessons, before being released on probation pending trial after an appeal from his lawyer.
The court in Konya sentenced him to 11 months and 20 days in prison but suspended the sentence for three years due to his good behavior during the trial, the Dogan news agency reported.
According to reports, the boy accused Erdogan and the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) ruling party of corruption during his speech in Konya. The teen has defiantly declared after his detention that his political activism would continue, saying he was a “soldier” of modern Turkey’s secular founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
The case came amid growing concerns about freedom of speech in Turkey under Erdogan, with dozens of journalists, public figures and even a former Miss Turkey put under investigation for insulting the president.