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Turkish teen detained for ‘insulting’ Erdogan freed by court

Erdogan

Ankara: A 14-year-old schoolboy detained by police in Turkey for allegedly “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been freed by a court, local media reports said today.

The teenager, identified only by the initials U. E and initially reported to be 15, spent last night in a police station after being picked up by officers outside an Internet cafe, Cihan news agency said.

He was brought before a court but did not have charges brought against him because of his age. In Turkey, minors under 15 cannot be judged for a crime punishable by fewer than five years in jail.

The boy had been accused of “insulting” Erdogan on Facebook, a crime that carries up to four years in prison.

The arrest in December of a 17-year-old accused of insulting Erdogan sparked outrage in the country and abroad, fuelling concerns about freedom of speech in Turkey.

In that case the teenager, who called Erdogan a thief during a speech at a student protest, was given an 11-month suspended sentence.

Since Erdogan’s election as president last August — after 11 years as prime minister — the number of prosecutions for insulting the head of state have risen. Artists, journalists and schoolchildren have all been targeted.

Earlier this month, the editor of a leading English-language daily newspaper, Today’s Zaman, was detained on suspicion of insulting Erdogan in a series of tweets.