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Turkish journalist detained after ‘insulting’ President Erdogan in a TV interview

By Hande Atay Alam and Isil Sariyuce, CNN

A Turkish journalist has been sent to prison for “insulting” the nation’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Sedef Kabas was arrested in Istanbul on Saturday following a live interview on the opposition TV channel Tele1 last Friday, according to Turkey’s state broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television, TRT Haber.

Kabas used traditional Turkish proverbs to make references to Erdogan without actually giving the President’s name.

“A crowned head gets wiser, but we see that it is not true,” she said in reference to Erdogan’s nearly 20 years in power since becoming prime minister then president.

She then said: “When a cattle enters a palace, he will not be a king, but that palace becomes a barn.”

According to TRT Haber, the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office made a decision to send Kabas to prison after an investigation, following her comments.

Kabas was detained at a hotel where she was staying overnight Friday.

Early Saturday morning, she was first taken to the police station and then to the prosecutor’s office. Cameras were already rolling when she was brought to the courthouse where she appeared in front of the judge in Istanbul court and was immediately arrested.

Kabas’s lawyer Ugur Poyraz wrote on his Twitter page, “I declare that we will fight to the end against unlawfulness.”

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul reacted with a tweet Saturday that did not name Kabas: “I curse the ugly words that target our President, who was elected by the votes of our nation. These endless and unlawful expressions arising from envy and hatred will find the response they deserve in the conscience of the nation and in front of justice.”

Turkey’s Presidential Communication Director, Fahrettin Altun wrote in a tweet Saturday, “Politics, opposition, and journalism all have morals. Those who see this morality in this country too much are the poor people who have no self-respect. A so-called journalist is blatantly insulting our President on a television channel that has no goal other than spreading hatred!!”

Reacting to news of the journalist’s arrest, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) — a nonprofit media watchdog — said: “No less than 200 journalists were prosecuted, and 70 journalists were sentenced on similar charges since Erdogan was elected President in August 2014.”

Erdogan is often criticized as an authoritarian figure in Turkey and his two decades in power have seen him crack down on opposition in the country.

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