In Turkey journalist charged with "insulting the president" after she recited a Circassian proverb

The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) and 37 press freedom organizations and journalists call on Turkey to release senior journalist Sedef Kabaş. Charged with “insulting the president”, after she used a popular Circassian proverb on a live television segment, Sedef was sent to prison on January 22, 2022. 

The unfounded imprisonment of the noted journalist was met with widespread condemnation from local and international press freedom organizations as well as rights organizations and press freedom defenders. Yet, the Turkish government and judiciary appear relentless and Sedef remains behind bars.

January 14, 2022, while discussing President Erdoğan on a show called “The Arena of Democracy”, hosted by pro-opposition TV channel TELE1, Sedef said, “Cattle does not become a king when it enters a palace, but the palace becomes a cowshed”. Her remark prompted a backlash from government officials and pro-Erdoğan corners. The journalist was arrested at her home by law enforcement officers at around 2 AM, on the night of January 21.

Sedef Kabaş has since clarified that she was using a proverb and maintains that it was not intended as an insult to the president. When she was brought before the court on January 22, the court dubbed her a “flight risk” and ordered her imprisonment. 

January 26, the court rejected her lawyer’s appeal for her release. The journalist is currently being held in Bakırköy Women’s Prison in İstanbul.