Turk sentenced for Erdogan-Gollum gag

Turk sentenced for Erdogan-Gollum gag

Rifat Çetin handed suspended prison term for posing images comparing president to Lord of the Rings character

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

'Lord of the Rings' character Gollum and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (screenshot: YouTube)
'Lord of the Rings' character Gollum and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (screenshot: YouTube)

A Turkish man was given a suspended prison sentence for posting pictures on the internet comparing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the bug-eyed character Gollum from the Lord of the Rings saga.

Rifat Çetin was given a suspended year in prison for five years and also lost parental custodian rights, The Guardian reported on Thursday, citing Turkish media.

He was found guilty of insulting the president with three images he posted on Facebook in 2014 showing Erdogan juxtaposed with Gollum.

Cetin said he will appeal the sentence as at the time the photos were published, Erdogan was prime minister and not the president.

According to The Guardian over 1,800 people have been accused of insulting the president, a crime that carries a sentence of up to four years behind bars. Among the accused are cartoonists and a former Miss Turkey.

Another Turkish man is facing similar charges. In December 2015 a Turkish court asked experts to analyze the Lord of the Rings character to decide whether Bilgin Çiftçi, a doctor, should be jailed for sharing via social media images comparing Erdogan to the figure.

Unable to decide whether Erdogan truly looks like Gollum, the court in the western province of Aydin asked a group of experts — two academicians, two psychologists and a film buff — to determine whether the comparison was an insult, the Milliyet newspaper reported at the time.

Ciftci was sacked from his hospital and subsequently briefly detained for sharing images comparing Erdogan’s facial expressions when eating, expressing surprise and amazement, to those of Gollum.

The case comes amid growing concern over the spiraling numbers of journalists, bloggers and ordinary people who are being taken to court on charges of insulting Erdogan and other top officials.

In another case that has garnered huge attention, model and former Miss Turkey beauty queen Merve Buyuksarac went on trial in May on charges of insulting the president.

AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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