The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into social media users posting videos in which they hide their money from the Turkish president, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Thursday.
Twitter and TikTok users in the country have posted hundreds of such videos over the past few days, showing themselves scrambling to hide their cash as an image of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan emerges calling for them to pull out “the gold and foreign currency savings” from “under their pillows.”
Erdoğan’s words are an excerpt from a speech in which he encouraged citizens to deposit their savings in banks in a bid to prop up the ailing Turkish lira.
Netizens who posted the videos are under investigation for “insulting the president,” according to Cumhuriyet, which reported that police have been ordered to identify and detain the suspects.
Violation of Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) on insulting the president carries a jail sentence of between one and four years. Tens of thousands have been charged and sentenced over the crime of insulting Erdoğan since 2014, when he moved from being prime minister to president.
A total of 160,169 investigations have been launched over insulting the president since 2014, with a total of 35,507 cases filed, of which 12,881 resulted in convictions.
Inflation in Turkey has surged to the highest levels since the 1990s after the central bank cut interest rates late last year and refused to hike them since. Rising prices and lack of confidence in government policy has led to a sharp sell-off in the lira.
Erdoğan maintains an unorthodox monetary policy that lower interest rates will reduce inflation and boost capital flows in a view that contradicts major central banks around the world have tightened monetary policy to deal with accelerating price increases.