Turkish teenager who 'insulted' President Erdogan released from custody

Mehmet Emin Altunses, 16, was arrested by the police at his school after making a speech on Wednesday

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The Independent Online

The student still faces trial and could face four years in prison if convicted

A Turkish schoolboy who was arrested for allegedly insulting the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been released from custody.

Mehmet Emin Altunses, 16, was arrested by the police at his school after making a speech on Wednesday.

The student criticised the ruling AK Party and Erdoğan personally, referring to corruption allegations.

Altunses delivered his speech at an event to commemorate the killing of a Turkish soldier by Islamists in the 1920s, which was recorded and broadcast on the Dogan News Agency.

 

A court in the Turkish city of Konya agreed to free Altunses following petitions from dozens of lawyers calling for his release.

However, the teenager still remains accused of insulting President Erdoğan and faces a trial although no date has yet been set.

Under the Turkish penal code it is illegal to insult the president and if found guilty, he could be sentenced up to four years in jail.

The arrest has caused outrage from government opponents but Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu defended the court’s original decision to arrest the schoolboy.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that “Everyone must respect the office of president whoever he is.”

Before taking office in August this year, President Erdoğan served as Turkey’s Prime Minister for 11 years.

The Turkish government has been embroiled in corruption scandal since December last year. Part of the controversy concerned a case looking at the alleged awarding of illegal permits to business projects.

Although the case was dismissed by the court, the scandal has posed one of the biggest challenges to President Erdoğan’s presidency.

The president said that the corruption investigations were part of an attempted coup by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is in a self-imposed exile in the US.

Additional reporting by agencies

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