At the end of week which saw Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan say his country should develop nuclear weapons, and further he'll flood Europe with Syrian refugees if the world doesn't back his 'safe zone' plan on Syrian territory, a Turkish politician is now headed to prison for merely "insulting" the president on Twitter.
"A Turkish court convicted an opposition party branch leader Friday of engaging in terrorist propaganda and insulting Turkish government officials with a series of social media posts, a verdict the opposition immediately alleged was politically motivated," the Associated Press reports. Upon Friday's verdict Canan Kaftancioglu, head of the secular Republican People's Party Istanbul branch, received a whopping nine years and eight months prison sentence.
The Turkish lira suddenly tumbled as soon as news of the verdict hit Turkish media and grabbed international headlines:
Kaftancioglu plans to appeal the sentence and won't see prison time until those appeals are complete. She was initially facing up to 17 years on an avalanche of charges including "insulting" the Turkish republic and Erdogan himself, as well as "making terrorist propaganda" and "inciting public enmity," according to state media.
Her supporters say it's clearly a case driven by political "vengeance" after she helped deal a major blow to Erdogan in Istanbul's recent mayoral election, propelling her colleague Ekrem Imamoglu to an upset victory over ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) candidate and Erdogan pick, Binali Yıldırım.
She received sentences on five charges, including 20 months for “humiliating” the state, 18 months for “insulting a public official”, 28 months for “insulting the president” and 32 months for “inciting the people to hatred”. — SCMP
“This trial is aimed at punishing Istanbul and those who helped the victory of the people of Istanbul. I will never give up my ideas and my convictions. They think they can scare us but we will continue to speak,” Kaftancioglu said.
The Twitter posts in question were actually said to be several social media posts over years, which the state deemed “terrorist propaganda” - including tweets criticizing Ankara's harsh response and crackdowns on Kurdish groups and anti-Erdogan protesters. She also reportedly criticized the government's response to the 2016 failed coup attempt.