Free Speech

Turkey: University student arrested for ‘insulting president’ in tweets


University student Helin Nigit was arrested by a court order on 7 February on charges of “insulting the Turkish president” in social media posts she shared in the years 2014 and 2016. 

Nigit, a member of the Communist Movement of Turkey (TKH) is also accused of “insulting public officials” in her tweets. She first testified to a prosecutor, who then referred her to a court, asking for her arrest. The court has placed her in pre-trial detention. 

In a written statement, TKH condemned the decision. “We don’t accept punishing those who criticize the reactionary AKP (Justice and Development Party) government  on the pretense of “insulting the president.”

The statement denounced the arrest, saying Turkey’s emergency rule is illegitimate. “Our party member should be released immediately. We will not submit to the unlawful and oppressive practices of the AKP,” it further said.

Detentions and arrests in Turkey over tweets or other social media posts are common. Most recently, the Interior Ministry said more than 400 people were taken into custody for “terror propaganda online,” the accusation the Turkish government has recently tended to use for tweets that criticize the country’s military operations in Afrin.