Turkish TV journalist arrested after criticizing Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Journalist Sedef Kabas was arrested a few hours after making critical statements about the Turkish head of state on television. Insulting the President is a criminal offense in Turkey.

A well-known television journalist has been taken into custody in Turkey for making critical statements about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Sedef Kabas was arrested at her home in Istanbul around 2 a.m. Saturday (12 a.m. CET), according to her lawyer. She was brought before a court, which formally confirmed her detention.

A few hours before her arrest, Kabas had criticized Erdogan during a broadcast and then also on the online service Twitter, where 900,000 people follow her. Insulting the president is a criminal offense in Turkey, punishable by prison terms of between one and four years. She is reported to have said, “An ox may find its way into the palace, but that does not make it a king. It does make the palace a stable, though.”

Presidential spokesman defends arrest

“A so-called journalist outright insulted our president on a television channel that has no other goal than to spread hatred,” wrote Erdogan’s spokesman Fahrettin Altun on Twitter. “I condemn in the strongest terms this arrogance, this lack of morals,” he added.

The Turkish journalists’ union TGS said Kabas’ arrest was “a serious attack on press freedom”. The association has repeatedly denounced restrictions on press freedom in Turkey, especially since an attempted coup in 2016. In a ranking of press freedom by the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders last year, Turkey took 153rd place among the 180 countries surveyed.

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