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Ex-Miss Turkey Gets Suspended Sentence for Insulting Erdogan

  • VOA News

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, former Miss Turkey Merve Buyuksarac speaks to The Associated Press in Istanbul, Turkey. A court on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 convicted a former Miss Turkey of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through social media postings and gave her a 14-month suspended sentence, amid deepening concerns that the country is swaying toward an increasingly authoritarian form of rule.

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, former Miss Turkey Merve Buyuksarac speaks to The Associated Press in Istanbul, Turkey. A court on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 convicted a former Miss Turkey of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through social media postings and gave her a 14-month suspended sentence, amid deepening concerns that the country is swaying toward an increasingly authoritarian form of rule.

A former Miss Turkey has been convicted of insulting the country's president, earning her a 14-month suspended prison sentence.

Model Merve Buyuksarac, 27, was found guilty of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on social media, a charge she denied.

Buyuksarac, who was Miss Turkey in 2006, was detained last year for posting a satirical poem on Instagram in 2014. The poem was set to the music of the Turkish national anthem and widely shared, the BBC reported.

Prosecutors maintained the poem was insulting to Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time.

One condition of her sentence was that she must not insult the president for the next five years.

Roughly 2,000 people have been charged with insulting the president since he took office in 2014.

Buyuksarac’s lawyer told the Associated Press that insult trials were not coincidence.

"These insult trials are being initiated in series, they are being filed automatically, said Emre Telci. "Merve was prosecuted for sharing a posting that did not belong to her. My client has been convicted for words that do not belong to her."

Erdogan’s lawyer said the poem was an "attack against my client's personal rights."

Human rights activists say the spate of trials is an attempt by the Erdogan government to silence critics.

Buyuksarac's lawyer added he plans to take the case to the European Court of Justice.

In April, Erdogan filed a criminal complaint against a German comedian and last year, a Turkish doctor was charged with insulting Erdogan after posting a photo comparing the president to a character from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

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