Turkish Journalist Sentenced to Prison for Insulting Prime Minister in a Tweet
The criminal court in Ankara sentenced Önder Aytaç, a well-known writer and columnist for the opposition newspaper Taraf, to a 10-month prison sentence on Monday for “insulting public officials” — in this case, Erdoğan
Aytaç, whose Twitter handle is @onderaytac, is a former police official and part of the Gülen movement, a religious group that once had close ties to Erdoğan but now opposes the Prime Minister. Aytaç’s sentence is reportedly suspended for one year, but it’s unclear if that means he won’t end up going to prison or if his sentence is simply delayed.
The tweet that put Aytaç in Turkish government’s cross hairs was reportedly posted in 2012. At the time, Erdoğan announced that he would be shutting down private schools that the Gülen movement operates around the world.
Linking to a story on the matter, Aytaç, who has 180,000 followers on Twitter, said: “CLOSE THEM DOWN MY CHIEF :-)” using the word “my chief” (ustam in Turkish), which is how Erdoğan loyalist refer to their leader.