Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has promised a well-known TV journalist will not go “with impunity” after she was arrested for alleged insults.
Police arrested Sedef Kabaş at her home at 2am on Saturday, just hours after she aired the comments and then posted them on Twitter to her 900,000 followers.
The alleged insult was a proverb which translates to: “If the ox comes into the palace, it will not become a king.” But the palace becomes a barn.”
She was formally arrested after appearing in court.
“This offense will not go unpunished,” Erdoğan said in an interview aired on private television channel NTV.
“It is our duty to protect respect for my function, the presidency,” he said. “It has nothing to do with freedom of expression.”
He criticized a proposal by the opposition Republican People’s Party to abolish the crime of insulting the president, which carries a prison sentence of one to four years.
The Turkish journalists’ union has described Kabaş’s arrest as a “grave attack on freedom of expression”.
Human rights groups routinely accuse Turkey of undermining media freedom by arresting journalists and shutting down key media outlets, particularly since Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.
Reporters Without Borders ranks Turkey 153 out of 180 in its 2021 Press Freedom Index.