Turkey Detains TV Journalist, Accuses Her of Insulting President

Turkey has detained a well-known television journalist for comments she made on air about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, her lawyer said Saturday.

Police detained Sedef Kabas at her home at 2 a.m. Saturday, just hours after she aired the comments and then posted them on Twitter to her 900,000 followers.

She was formally arrested after appearing in court.

The crime of insulting the president carries a jail sentence of one to four years in Turkey.

“A so-called journalist is blatantly insulting our president on a television channel that has no goal other than spreading hatred,” Erdogan’s chief spokesperson, Fahrettin Altun, said on Twitter.

“I condemn this arrogance, this immorality in the strongest possible terms. This is not only immoral, it is also irresponsible,” Altun said.

But the Turkish journalists union called Kabas’ arrest a “serious attack on freedom of expression.”

Rights groups routinely accuse Turkey of undermining media freedom by arresting journalists and shutting down critical media outlets, especially since Erdogan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 153rd out of 180 in its 2021 press freedom index. 

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