May 14, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Students gets suspended jail sentence for posting cartoon of mayor on Facebook

Reporters Without Borders condemns the 11-month suspended prison sentence that a court in the northwestern city of Eskisehir imposed on 22-year-old student Erdem Büyük on 10 May for posting a cartoon of the city’s mayor, Yilmaz Bûyükersen, on Facebook. “Büyük is just a scapegoat because he did not himself draw the cartoon and all he did was post it online,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This violation of free expression is meant to serve as example and encourage those who use social networks to censor themselves.” The press freedom organisation added: “We are astonished by the mayor’s determination to punish Büyük because it is normal for a public figure to be exposed to criticism and satire. The prosecution is all the more disgraceful as the mayor himself is a former cartoonist and the cartoon in question did not incite violence.” A student of economics at the University of Osmangazi, Büyük was convicted by a magistrate’s court of violating the mayor’s “personal rights” under article 125 of the criminal code, which concerns defamation. Posting cartoons on Facebook is a common practice. His lawyer said he wanted to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Büyük told journalists he was arrested a year ago at this home, interrogated and then released pending trial. “I shared this cartoon because I really liked it but I had no intention of attacking the mayor.” Several thousand websites, including YouTube, are currently blocked in Turkey. Other netizens have been given jail sentences because of what they posted online. Turkey was added to the “countries under surveillance” in the Reporters Without Borders list of “Enemies of the Internet” that was released on 11 March.