Journalists slam conviction of Turkish Cypriot over Erdogan cartoon

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The Cyprus Journalists Union has condemned the jail sentence – in absentia – handed to Turkish Cypriot newspaper publisher Sener Levent for insulting Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Head of the CJU Yiorgos Frangos said Sener’s prosecution is a “silencing operation”, adding that an appeal has already been made to international institutions.

Frangos said that the one-year prison sentence is an attempt to abuse press freedom and freedom of expression.

He said there is a risk that Levent could be extradited to Turkey from the Turkish-occupied north of the island.

The CJU has alerted organisations such as the European Federation of Journalists, Reporters without borders and the OSCE Office for the freedom of the press.

It is also in touch with the Turkish Cypriot press union Basın Sen and the Turkish Cypriot Union of Journalists.

Levent was sentenced to one year in prison for offending Erdogan in a cartoon printed on 8 December 2017 in his Turkish Cypriot daily Avrupa.

Under Turkish law, punishment for offending Erdogan is a maximum four-year jail term.

The cartoon depicted an ancient Greek statue urinating on Erdogan’s head.

Levent was acquitted of the same offence by a Turkish Cypriot court in 2019.