MEP: A former Miss Turkey was handed a 14-month suspended prison sentence on Tuesday for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Istanbul court found 27-year-old Merve Buyuksarac guilty of insulting a public official but suspended the sentence on condition she does not repeat the act for the next five years, local media said.
Her lawyer, Emre Telci, said he would file a formal objection to the verdict and appeal her case at the Strasbourg, France-based European Court of Justice.
“These insult trials are being initiated in series, they are being filed automatically,” he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying after the verdict. “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.”
The so-called ‘Master’s Poem, ’ an adaptation of the Turkish national anthem, allegedly criticizes Erdogan, who served as prime minister for more than a decade prior to becoming president and has often been called “Buyuk Usta” [the Big Master]. The poem did not mention Erdogan by name, but made reference to a corruption scandal that allegedly involved his family.
During the hearings, the President’s lawyer, Hatice Ozay, stressed that Buyuksarac’s Instagram post had gone beyond “the limits of criticism” and was in fact “an attack” on Erdogan’s personal rights.
Prosecutors are also pursuing a case against a German comedian who mocked Erdogan on German television.
Buyuksarac, who was crowned Miss Turkey in 2006, was briefly detained last year for sharing a satirical poem on her Instagram account in 2014. Prosecutors deemed it to be insulting to Erdogan, who was still prime minister at the time. She has denied insulting Erdogan.