Pianist imprisoned for ‘insulting’ Turkey’s President Erdogan

Turkish pianist Dengin Ceyhan

The Turkish pianist detained on charges of “defaming” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on social media has been imprisoned.

Dengin Ceyhan, an accomplished pianist, was detained in a morning house raid on 14 February for “insulting” Erdogan in social media posts. After spending eight days in custody the pianist appeared in court on Tuesday and was sent to prison.

Following the trial, Ceyhan’s lawyer Sertac Ekinci told reporters that the social media posts were shared before 16 July 2016 (when state of emergency was declared in Turkey), and therefore should not result in a prison term.

“Decree law 671 states that crimes such as this committed before 1 July 2016 will result in judicial control for up to two years; so the crime attributed to Dengin Ceyhan cannot be turned to a prison sentence. This is illegal.”

Ceyhan is a well known pianist in Turkey for having given a concert with renowned pianist Davide Martello during the anti-government Gezi Park protests in 2013. He was due to launch a concert tour for the children of the Soma mine victims (301 miners died in the disaster) according to reports.

As of March 2016, almost 2,000 people were on trial accused of insulting the president. Although there are no official figures post 15 July, this figure is thought to be much higher now.