Turkey demands 11 years behind bars for senior journalist

Tens of thousands have been charged and convicted over the crime of insulting the president since Erdogan took office in 2014 after serving as prime minister for 11 years.

 Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey October 16, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey October 16, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)

A Turkish prosecutor's office demanded 11 years in jail for a prominent journalist on charges of insulting President Tayyip Erdogan and two ministers in his cabinet, Turkish news agencies reported on Friday.

Last month, a court ordered Sedef Kabas, a 52-year-old television journalist who mainly covers Turkish politics, to be jailed pending trial on a charge of insulting Erdogan, which carries a jail sentence of between one and four years.

The prosecutor also asked Kabas to be charged with insulting Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailoglu, for a combined jail term of 11 years.

Kabas was jailed pending trial over a proverb she cited during a political discussion on opposition TV channel Tele 1 and repeated on Twitter, which Erdogan's communications head and the justice minister condemned as a swipe at the president.

Earlier on Friday, The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) and 37 press freedom organizations and journalists called on Turkey to release Kabas.

 TURKISH PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses supporters in Istanbul, Nov. 5. (credit: UMIT BEKTAS/REUTERS) TURKISH PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses supporters in Istanbul, Nov. 5. (credit: UMIT BEKTAS/REUTERS)

"The unfounded imprisonment of the noted journalist was met with widespread condemnation from local and international press freedom organizations as well as rights organizations and press freedom defenders," the joint statement said.

"Yet, the Turkish government and judiciary appear relentless and Sedef remains behind bars," it added.

Tens of thousands have been charged and convicted over the crime of insulting the president since Erdogan took office in 2014 after serving as prime minister for 11 years.

Between 2014 and the end of 2020, 160,169 such investigations were launched, 35,507 cases were filed and there were 12,881 convictions, official data shows.