Cüneyt Arat, an Adana-based visually impaired journalist, tweeted on Monday that he has been sued for the second time by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for having allegedly insulted him.
In June, Arat shared a photo of a court document notifying him that he had been sued by Erdoğan. “I’m not at all sorry to be sued by you, @rt_erdogan. You are suing a disabled person the age of your grandchildren,” Arat tweeted. He later shared a photo of himself with Erdoğan, and wrote: “Once you loved me, you praised me. Now you are suing me.”
According to Monday’s tweets, Arat is charged with insulting the president, and may face up to four years in prison. He stated that he has been asked to attend hearings on Dec. 21 and Oct. 14 for the first and second cases, respectively.
Arat also claimed that senior officials from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) offered by phone to “make him rich” if he publicly apologized to Erdoğan. He said he refused, and will continue to be a voice for people with disabilities.
Denying that he has ever insulted Erdoğan, either on Twitter or in his reporting, Arat argued that he has the right to criticize a president who is constitutionally bound, and who has publicly vowed, to be politically impartial, but who instead organized rallies to support the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) before the June 7 general election.
Journalists and public figures who are critical of Erdoğan and the AK Party have been targeted by police and prosecutors with the same charge, which is widely considered to be a new method of intimidating political opponents.
Dozens, including journalists Sedef Kabaş, Hidayet Karaca and Mehmet Baransu, as well as high school students, activists and even Merve Büyüksaraç, a former Miss Turkey, have been prosecuted for having allegedly insulted Erdoğan on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
In April, the international advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Turkey to end prosecutions for insulting public officials, criticizing the increasing number of criminal cases, some filed against minors, in the country.