Actor İlyas Salman appears before the judge for ‘degrading the Turkish nation’

News About Turkey - NAT
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Facing up to 2 years in prison over his remarks in a video that he shared on social media and charged with “publicly degrading the Turkish Nation”, actor İlyas Salman stood trial today (March 22).

The first hearing was held at the İstanbul Anadolu 54th Criminal Court of First Instance and attended by both Salman himself and his lawyer Özgür Murat Büyük. The hearing began after the identity check.

Facing charges as per the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), Salman made defense and said that he did not know who had filed a complaint against him and that he did not degrade anyone, but made some critical remarks as a warning to the people voting for the government.

Salman added that he is a dissident artist and underlined that he will keep on being a dissident even if the order he wants is established.

Underlining that “artists should put forward their dissident stance and should not be intimidated in doing this no matter what happens”, Salman stressed that “he did not degrade the people, but uttered some critical remarks as a warning to the people voting for the current government”.

Recalling that “millions of people live under the starvation line in Turkey today”, Salman said, “I am a dissident, socialist, communist”.

‘He criticized Erdoğan’

Salman’s lawyer Büyük also stated that when the speech of his client is considered in its entirety, it will be seen that the elements of the offense charged were not constituted. He requested Salman’s acquittal:

“The degradation of the Turkish nation is not the case here. He criticized Erdoğan. You know that artists, struggling for the enlightenment of society, have more freedom of expression. We want a ruling of acquittal”.

Handing down its interim ruling, the court board has adjourned the trial until September 13 so that the deficiencies can be rectified.

Speaking to the press following the hearing, Salman said that he did his duty as a dissident artist and added, “I am happy for doing my duty. An artist, by nature, is dissident. Regardless of what order comes, artists criticize it, turning a deaf ear to its applause. I don’t have much to say”.

What happened?

As reported by the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), which follows his case, the indictment lodged against İlyas Salman presents his statements in an interview as evidence against the actor.

In the related interview, commenting on a fellow actor’s acceptance of an award presented by President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, İlyas Salman stated that he would never accept an award from Erdoğan and said that “he got his award with the votes of these mindless people.” After the interview, İlyas Salman was targeted by the mainstream media and was accused of “insulting the nation.”

After İlyas Salman shared the video where uttered these remarks on social media, an investigation was launched against him for “uttering remarks aimed at publicly degrading the Turkish Nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), the Government of Turkey and the judicial bodies of the state”.

The indictment issued by the İstanbul Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office argued that the video that he shared on his social media account on January 25, 2021 contained remarks degrading the Turkish nation. The indictment also indicated that the investigation was launched after the Ministry of Justice gave permission for the investigation last September.

In another case, in 2001, when he said in a program, “500 cows sit at the Parliament in Ankara”, İlyas Salman was also put on trial. Saying, “I apologize to cows, not to MPs”, İlyas Salman was acquitted by the Kocaeli 4th Criminal Court of First Instance in 2002. (HA/SD)


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