Journalist Husnu Mahalli a prominent Middle East expert received a 29 month prison sentence for “insulting the president” and a suspended 20 month sentence for “insulting government officials,” after calling President Erdoğan “dictator.”
In his defense during the sentencing hearing, Mahalli demanded his acquittal, stating that he was merely doing his job as a journalist. He said, “I did not insult the president. I have always referred to him as ‘Mr. President.’ The word ‘dictator’ does not include insult. It is an international definition relating to power held by one person.”
The veteran journalist was arrested in December 2016 for “insulting government figures.” He was released pending trial a month later.
Mahalli’s lawyer Muhterem Aktas announced later on Twitter that the 20-month prison sentence his client received for insulting government officials was suspended by the court and he would appeal both sentences.
Mahalli worked for a number of international media organizations such as BBC, NBC, along with Turkish dailies, TV channels and some radio stations, magazines and newspapers in Arabic countries.