Further information on UA: 131/18 Index: EUR 44/9306/2018 Turkey Date: 26 October 2018
STUDENTS’ TRIAL ONGOING, DESPITE APOLOGY TO ERDOĞAN
Four students from the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) in Turkey still face
charges for ‘insulting the president’ despite President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan withdraw-
ing his complaint. The students met with President Erdoğan ahead of the first hearing on
22 October and apologized for the offence caused. The next hearing will take place on 4
On 22 October, the four Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) students, charged with ‘insulting the presi-
dent’ under Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code, attended the first hearing of their trial in Ankara, Turkey. The
hearing came almost a week after the students met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who withdrew his crimi-
nal complaint against the students after receiving an apology from them. The trial, however, is set to continue, as
the Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül has not withdrawn his permission for the prosecution of the case under the
provisions of Article 299/3.
During the hearing, their lawyers argued that the students – who had unfurled a banner depicting a cartoon of Pres-
ident Erdoğan during a graduation parade in July – had engaged in legitimate political criticism and that their ac-
tions were constitutionally protected under the right to freedom of expression. The students’ lawyers also refer-
enced an earlier court ruling concerning the cartoon depicted on the banners. Originally published in 2005 in the
Turkish satirical magazine Penguen, the cartoon was the subject of an unsuccessful defamation suit by President
Erdoğan, with the court ruling that the cartoon constituted protected speech under the right to freedom of expres-
At the end of the hearing on 22 October, the Ankara Criminal Court of First Instance No. 11 ordered that the stu-
dents’ overseas travel bans be lifted.
The ODTÜ students, who were arrested and detained in early July, were released on bail on 10 August, following a
successful legal challenge by their lawyers. While the students are currently at liberty, the charges against them
have not been dropped and they still face up to four years in prison if found guilty. The next hearing of the trial will
be held on 4 April 2019. We will continue to closely follow developments in the case and call for all charges against
the students to be dropped and for the repeal of Articles 125 (criminal defamation) and 299 (insulting the president)
of the Turkish Penal Code.
Thank you to all those who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.
This is the second update of UA 131/18. Further information: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur44/9025/2018/en/
Gender m/f: two males, two females
Further information on UA: 131/18 Index: EUR 44/9306/2018 Issue Date: 26 October 2018