Europe

Turkish court 'orders Gollum study' in Erdogan case

  • 1 December 2015
  • From the section Europe
A poster for the film The Hobbit showing Gollum Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The experts will reportedly be asked to decide whether or not Gollum is a bad character

A Turkish court has asked experts to assess the character Gollum from The Lord of the Rings in the case of a man on trial for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish media report.

Bilgin Ciftci is accused of insulting the president for sharing images comparing Mr Erdogan and Gollum.

The experts will reportedly decide whether or not this was an insult.

It is not known precisely what criteria the experts will use to arrive at their decision.

The character of Gollum appears in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien and the film versions directed by Peter Jackson.

He was first introduced in the Hobbit as "a small, slimy creature". In the Lord of the Rings his longing for the ring distorted his body and mind.

The experts will be a group composed of two academics, two behavioural scientists or psychologists and an expert on cinema and television productions, the Today's Zaman newspaper reports.

The judge took the decision after admitting he had not seen the whole of the Lord of the Rings series in which Gollum features.

The images shared by Mr Ciftci showed Mr Erdogan and Gollum in similar poses eating, expressing surprise and amazement.

The case has now been adjourned until February.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Erdogan has been accused of cracking down on criticism

Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey, punishable by prison.

Turkey's record on freedom of speech and treatment of journalists has come in for criticism in recent years, with Mr Erdogan's administration seen as being increasingly intolerant of criticism.

Mr Erdogan's legal team has often backed cases brought by lawyers and private individuals against people who have allegedly insulted him.


Turkey's hard line on insults:

  • Between August 2014 and March 2015, 236 people investigated for "insulting the head of state"; 105 indicted; eight formally arrested
  • Between July and December 2014, Turkey filed 477 requests to Twitter for removal of content, over five times more than any other country and an increase of 156% on the first half of the year
  • Reporters Without Borders places Turkey 149th of 180 countries in the press freedom index
  • During Mr Erdogan's time in office (Prime Minister 2003-14, President from 2014), 63 journalists have been sentenced to a total of 32 years in prison, with collective fines of $128,000
  • Article 299 of the Turkish penal code states that anybody who insults the president of the republic can face a prison term of up to four years. This sentence can be increased by a sixth if committed publicly; and a third if committed by press or media

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