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Turkish President to withdraw lawsuits filed for insult

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was withdrawing all lawsuits against people charged with insulting him as he was inspired by the feelings of unity in the wake of a failed attempted coup.

“For one time only, I will be forgiving and withdrawing all cases against the many disrespects and insults that have been levelled against me,” Hurriyet Daily News quoted Erdogen as saying late Friday at a ceremony to commemorate the over 300 people killed during the July 15 failed coup attempt.

“I feel that if we do not make use of this opportunity correctly, then it will give the people the right to hold us by the throat,” he added.

According to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code, it is a criminal offence to insult the President. The offense carries a jail sentence of between one and four years, Hurriyet Daily News said.

Since being elected in Turkey’s first public presidential elections in 2014, more than 2,000 people – including celebrities, journalists and high school students – have faced charges for “insulting” Erdogan.

Erdogan harshly criticised some countries for failing to offer any condolences regarding the failed coup and its victims and stepped up his attacks on nations slamming his crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, telling them to “mind your own business”.

“The attitude of many countries and their officials over the coup attempt in Turkey is shameful in the name of democracy,” Hurriyet Daily News reported citing the President as saying.

As of Friday, a total of 18,000 people suspected to be involved in planning the failed coup have been detained.

Turkey announced a military reshuffle on Thursday evening, including the dishonourable discharge of 1,700 military servicemen. About 40 per cent of generals and admirals have been discharged since the coup, BBC reported.

More than 66,000 public sector workers have been dismissed from their posts and 50,000 passports cancelled, while the labour ministry is investigating 1,300 of its staff.

The state has also shut 142 media outlets and detained several journalists.

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