Four Turkish journalists face up to four years in prison on accusations that they insulted Bilal Erdoğan, the son of Turkey’s president, in reports published in the Cumhuriyet daily, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.
Former executives and reporters for the secular Cumhuriyet newspaper Serkan Ozan, Olcay Büyüktaş Akça, Ozan Yurtoğlu and Hazal Ocak, who currently works for Gazete Duvar, appeared in an İstanbul court on Tuesday.
They were indicted based on a criminal complaint filed by Bilal Erdoğan.
Reports written by Ocak included a claim that close friends of Bilal Erdoğan were appointed to government jobs or granted lucrative government contracts under unfair conditions.
The headlines “Bilal Erdoğan’s lucky friend,” “A tender rich friend” and “His rivals are unlucky” were deemed insulting by the president’s son.
The indictment claims the content of the news reports and their headlines include insults and attacks on Bilal Erdoğan’s honor and prestige and seeks prison sentences based on the 125th Article of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) regarding successive and blatant insults of a person.
The journalists denied the insult charges at Tuesday’s hearing. Ocak said the indictment was offensive, while Ozan said he still has no idea what was insulting in the articles in question.
The trial was adjourned until June 7.
Pro-opposition media outlets in Turkey frequently write about contracts granted to pro-Erdoğan businesspeople or people close to the Erdoğan family in addition to the appointment of such figures to state jobs although they do not meet the criteria for them.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are widely criticized for filling state posts with their cronies and eschewing merit-based assignments.