Turkish journalist Sedef Kabas was sentenced Friday to 2 years and 4 months in prison to refer to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for using a proverb.
“An ox does not become king when it enters the palace, but the palace becomes a stable,” Kabas had said in a TV broadcast and later tweeted. After the verdict, the court ordered her release. “Sedef Kabas is now free,” her Twitter account read.
By using the proverb, she was found guilty of insulting the president. Nevertheless, she used the proverb on the air in January, and shortly afterwards, she tweeted that proverb again for her 900,000 followers. The TV journalist wanted to denounce the government’s crackdown on critics. The proverb may seem like an allusion to Erdogan, but the president or the presidential palace did not explicitly mention it.
In court, Kabas said she had not insulted the president, but she had the right to criticize the government. That is also her duty as a journalist, she said.
She was arrested shortly after the statements and has been in custody ever since. In a TV interview, Erdogan warned that “this crime will not go unpunished”. Insulting the president is punishable by up to four years in prison in Turkey.
In the press freedom ranking of Reporters without Borders, Turkey is in 153rd place, out of 180 countries.