An investigation was launched yesterday into social media messages regarding Erdoğan’s positive coronavirus test.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that he had tested positive for the omicron variant of covid-19. Immediately afterwards, his wife Emine Erdoğan said that she too is infected with the virus.
People in Turkey started posting messages on Twitter regarding the incident. An investigation was immediately launched into the social media messages.
The owners of 31 out of 36 accounts have been identified. Arrest warrants have been issued for eight people for insulting the president. Four have been detained.
The four detainees will be referred to the Public Prosecution after interrogation by the police.
Insulting the president
In the last six years 38,581 people have been prosecuted in Turkey for insulting President Erdoğan.
People are prosecuted under Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which addresses the offence of “insulting the President”.
The total figure prosecuted by the previous five presidents, in the 20 years from 1994 to 2014, was only 1816.
In 2020 alone, of 9,773 people were prosecuted for this offence and 3,655 were convicted, while in 2019, 13,990 were prosecuted and 4,291 were convicted.
Kenan Evren, the leader of the 1980 military coup, who was president for nine years between 1980 and 1989, prosecuted 340 people for insulting the president during his time in power, whereas Evren’s successors, Turgut Özal, Süleyman Demirel and Ahmet Necdet Sezer prosecuted 207, 158 and 163 people respectively.