ISTANBUL, Turkey — A famous Turkish actor was on Monday accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and inciting an armed uprising over comments made during a television program last week, local media reported.
Metin Akpinar — who is also a well-known comedian in Turkey — was taken in by police for questioning on Monday, along with another Turkish actor, Mujdat Gezen.
“If we don’t become a (democracy)… the leader might be hung from his feet or maybe poisoned in the cellars or meet the same end as other leaders in the past,” Akpinar, 77, reportedly said on television on Friday.
An Istanbul court said the two men would be released on conditional bail after they were summoned to give statements to prosecutors. But they will have to report to a police station once a week and are banned from leaving Turkey.
Both men are suspected of “insulting the president.” Akpinar also was suspected of “inciting an armed uprising against the government,” the Istanbul public prosecutor said Monday, quoted by Hurriyet daily.
The probe is still ongoing and the men will be formally charged after an indictment is prepared by the prosecutor.
Akpinar had also claimed on opposition Halk TV that any leader who “turned to Russia except Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) left office” through coups, referring to the founder of modern Turkey.
Turkey witnessed three military coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980. In 1997, an army-led campaign forced the government to resign and then in July 2016, there was an attempted overthrow of Erdogan blamed on a US-based Muslim preacher.
Akpinar said democracy was the “only option to save Turkey from polarization.”
Gezen, 75, was more direct in his remarks against Erdogan on the same program: “He tells the people ‘know your place.‘ Look Recep Tayyip Erdogan, you cannot test our patriotism. Know your place.”
The investigation into the men came after the president said Sunday: “They should be brought to account for this by the judiciary.”
Erdogan hit out at the “so-called artists” during a speech in Istanbul. “We cannot leave this business without giving a response, they will pay the price.”
Thousands of Turks including artists and journalists have been prosecuted in recent years over allegedly insulting Erdogan, although most have not been imprisoned.