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Ankara Court Gives President Erdogan freedom to insult

According to Cumhuriyet daily‘s report by Kemal Göktaş, the Third Ankara Civil Court explained the grounds for their refusal of a lawsuit filed by Professor Dr. Baskın Oran against President Tayyip Erdoğan. Prof. Dr. Oran sued the president over the language the president used about the academics for peace, who signed a peace petition last year. The court found that the president’s speech fell under “the right to respond to accusations against the state.”

The court found that Erdoğan’s language, which included terms like “lowly, cruel, dark, ignorant, repugnant, traitorous, lumpen, tools of a terrorist organization, immoral, sell-outs, [and] defiled souls,” did not refer to Baskin Oran personally, but to the academics who signed the petition. The court clarified, “The petitioner does not have standing to file a suit for damage from these statements or to argue that they were made about him personally or that they violated his personal rights by reflection.”
The court’s decision, which emphasized that the academics had criticized the government in their petition, said: “In response to these weighty and unjustified accusations, the language used in this petition, the role of the head of state is to represent the Turkish Republic and the unity of the Turkish nation, to be responsible for the application of the Constitution, and to ensure that the organs of state work smoothly and in cooperation with each other. It is natural for the defendant (Erdoğan) who possesses the role of the president to make comments and criticisms as part of daily life. Following this concept, the defendant’s remarks against the petition must be accepted as within the nature of the exercise of that right to criticize and air opposing views.”

An answering petition Erdoğan had presented to the court cited examples of “freedom of thought and expression” in opinions issued by the Constitutional Court as well as the European Court of Human Rights (AİHM). The petition pointed out that freedom of expression “also applies to facts or opinions the state or some portion of the population may find shocking or uncomfortable and that without these freedoms democratic society cannot exist.” The court’s decision to point directly to the right of the president as the head of state to respond to criticisms of the state without liability for damages without touching on the AİHM or Constitutional Court decisions despite the defenses of defendant Erdoğan attracted attention

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