Armenian Columnist Fined for ‘Insulting’ Ankara Mayor
ANKARA (Hurriyet Daily News) – A local court in Ankara has fined Turkish-Armenian columnist Hayko Bagdat 1,160 Turkish Liras for “insulting” Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek via his Twitter account, after Gokcek complained that he had used the words “Armenian” and “disgusting” to describe him, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
In his defense, Bagdat said Gokcek repeatedly asks his critics on social media whether they are “Armenian,” adding that the Ankara mayor is “disgusting” for using the term “Armenian” to describe people he dislikes. He demanded his acquittal and told the court that he did not deliberately intend to “insult” Gokcek.
Ali Deniz Ceylan, Bagdat’s lawyer, also told the court that Gokcek, who is well-known in Turkey as a prolific Twitter user, has tweeted many derogatory statements against which his client has responded.
However, Judge Suleyman Koksaldı sentenced Bagdat to a fine of 1,160 liras, while also delaying a compensation lawsuit opened by Gokcek against Bagdat.
Shortly after the ruling, Bagdat slammed the decision via his Twitter account on December 7th.
“My last words on this issue: Gokcek is committing a hate crime by calling anyone he dislikes ‘Armenian.’ This is disgusting behavior. Also, Gokcek himself is an Armenian,” he tweeted.
Back on Sept. 28, Bagdat told reporters that he faced a jail term after calling Gokcek “Armenian.”
“Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek has opened a court case [because] I called him ‘Armenian.’ Let me say why I called him ‘Armenian.’ Whenever he grabs a microphone or takes the keyboard in his hands, he calls his political rivals, the voters of his political rivals … journalists, and anyone he is angry with, ‘Armenian.’ He constantly says they are traitors because they are ‘Armenians’ or they have ‘Armenian’ roots, as if all elements making trouble for this country must somehow have a relationship to ‘Armenianness,’” he said.