13-year-old child sued for insulting Erdoğan

A 13-year-old child in Istanbul has been sued for insulting Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He faces up to four years in prison.

Charges have been brought in Istanbul against a 13-year-old child for insulting Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to the Birgün newspaper, the public prosecutor's office in the Gaziosmanpaşa district accuses the child of attacking "the honour, dignity and reputation of the President of the Republic". The case apparently stems from a complaint filed on CIMER, a web service of the Communications Centre of the Turkish President's Office, through which citizens can send complaints, messages and requests to the president. A juvenile court has accepted the indictment against the child, who was born in 2009.

According to the newspaper report, the background to the complaint filed with CIMER by Erdoğan supporters is a statement made by the child in a group chat on WhatsApp.

During questioning by the public prosecutor, he denied all accusations. It is unclear which concrete statement of the child, according to the prosecution, should correspond to the criminal offence of insulting the president.

The public prosecutor's office also had an expert opinion drawn up in order to rule out any restriction of the child's capacity to act. According to the report by Istanbul's forensic medicine department, the child has "no developmental deficits" and is capable of "assessing the legal significance of his actions and classifying the necessary consequences". It is not known when the trial will take place.

Depending on the severity of the case, insulting the president of Turkey can result in up to four years in prison, and that includes children. This is based on Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code. In Turkey, the age of criminal responsibility is 13 - and even at that age, one can expect a prison sentence for allegedly insulting Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In 2022, according to statistics from the Turkish Ministry of Justice, 1075 minors were sued for violations of Article 299. The vast majority of those involved were between 15 and 17 years old at the time, but 53 charges involved children between 12 and 14 years old. In total, 16,753 people stood trial on charges of insulting the president in Turkey last year.