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Turkish Cypriot ‘AG’ appeals Afrika acquittals

Editor of Afrika newspaper, Sener Levent

The Turkish Cypriot ‘attorney-general’ has filed for an appeal against the acquittal of daily Afrika publisher Sener Levent and one of his journalists in the north who were accused of insulting and defaming Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, reports said on Tuesday.

According to Kıbrıs, the ‘attorney-general’ in the north is filing an appeal against the acquittal of Levent and journalist Ali Osman Tabak asking for their conviction.

The paper said the lawsuit against Afrika had been filed for publishing a caricature which was considered an insult to Erdogan and an effort to damage relations between Turkey and the breakaway regime.

Levent and Osman were acquitted last week by a court in the north of Nicosia. They were facing up to five years in prison on charges of insulting and defaming Erdogan.

They were on trial for “insulting a foreign leader” after the newspaper published a cartoon showing a Greek statue urinating on Erdogan’s head.

The cartoon first appeared online at the time of Erdogan’s 2017 visit to Greece, and Afrika later published it with the caption “seen through Greek eyes.”

Levent and Tabak were likewise acquitted of the second charge, that of “inciting hatred against a foreign leader with the aim of spoiling the friendly and peaceful relations between the two countries” – meaning Turkey and the breakaway regime.

The judge said that the image “did not constitute an insult|” and by publishing the cartoon the paper was reporting the feelings of some Greeks after meetings between the Turkish and Greek leaders.

The court also cited rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, which has acquitted journalists over alleged “insults” to politicians, and noted that satire is part of free speech.

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