Adnan Bilen - “Insulting the President” Trial

An investigation was initiated against journalist Adnan Bilen in 2018 on allegations of “insulting the President of the Republic” with his social media posts, pursuant to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code. The investigation was conducted by the Van Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutordrafted the indictment. President Tayyip Erdoğan figured as “injured party” in the two-page indictment completed on February 25, 2019.

Bilen’s Facebook posts, on which the accusation was based, were also included in the indictment. According to the open research record dated May 16, 2017, Bilen’s two posts from 2015 and 2017 formed the grounds for accusation.

On December 31, 2017, Bilen had shared President Erdoğan’s family photo with the comment “A disgrace”; and on July 31, 2015, he had posted a photomontage featuring the President’s photo, titled “fascist agha”, with the comment “May Selo join the guerrilla, may Apo never speak again, and may Mağo Agha be pleased. Selahattin Demirtaş is such a nuisance. He can bother you even from thousands of miles away. Just look, President Tayyip Erdoğan is in China now, but still could not shake off the nuisance…”

The indictment states that the open-source research record is dated May 16, 2017; strikingly, this predates the first post forming the grounds for accusation.

Prosecutor, stated the posts were “aimed at the honor and dignity of the injured party”, and requested that Bilen be punished under Article 299/1.2 of the Turkish Penal Code on “Insulting the President of the Republic.”

Van Fourth Criminal Court of First Instance accepted the indictment against Bilen and a lawsuit was filed. The date of the first hearing of the lawsuit was set as July 19, 2019. Judge, presided over the hearing. Bilen was in attendance in the courtroom.

The complainant President Tayyip Erdoğan’s lawyer Hüseyin Aydın submitted a petition to participate in the proceedings. Bilen, in his defense during the hearing stated, “I have worked as a journalist for 20 years. The texts forming the subject matter of the case belong to someone else. These texts are not degrading or humiliating, but only constitute a harsh criticism. Thousands of other people shared this text on the social media. However, a lawsuit has been filed against only me. Even the author who wrote the text has not been sued.”

The court adjourned the trial until November 8, 2019, 10:10 am.

A verdict was reached in this hearing. The court, considered the word “disgrace” that Bilen used against the President within the scope of the crime of “insulting the president” and ruled for a 7 thousand TL fine, and acquitted him for the “Faşo Ağa (a reference to a fascist movie character)” word.

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