Erdoğan wins compensation in libel case against writer Altan
Writer Ahmet Altan poses for a photograph in this 1999 photo. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Selahattin Sevi)
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has won a compensation case he filed against writer Ahmet Altan on charges of insulting him.
The Ankara 20th Court of First Instance decided on Tuesday that Altan, who has recently resigned from his position as the editor-in-chief of the Taraf daily, pay TL 15,000 in compensation to Erdoğan.
Erdoğan's lawyers argued that Altan violated Erdoğan's personal rights as he used excessively harsh insults when writing about the prime minister in his column dated March 8, 2011, and titled “Alaturkalık” (Being a la Turca). The lawyers argued that Altan's column did not intend to criticize Erdoğan but to humiliate him by calling the prime minister “arrogant, uninformed and uninterested.” The prime minister's attorneys also said Altan's comments in the column cannot be accepted simply as a writer stating his opinions.
Altan's lawyer, Lale Şimşek, on the other hand, demanded the dismissal of the case, claiming that her client didn't violate Erdoğan's personal rights, but simply lodged criticism against the prime minister.
Erdoğan's lawyers had filed a lawsuit against the journalist last year as well, arguing that Altan had harshly insulted the prime minister and exceeded the limits of criticism protected as freedom of expression. In his column published on Jan. 15, 2011, and titled “Erdoğan and hollow bullying,” Altan argued the prime minister was becoming more Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)-like, denying the rights of Kurds, aspiring to demolish a statue in Kars and arguing with whoever warned him to return to his reformist, democratic and progressive identity. The prime minister later withdrew the case.