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Turkish man given suspended jail for 'comparing Erdogan to Gollum'

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Istanbul (AFP)

A court in Turkey's southern resort city of Antalya has handed a Turkish man a suspended jail sentence of over one year for comparing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the "Lord of the Rings" character Gollum, a report said Thursday.

The man, named as Rifat Cetin, had in 2014 while Erdogan was still prime minister posted three pictures on his Facebook account comparing Erdogan to Gollum, a thin, pale, gangrel creature with a personality split between good and evil in J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels and the hugely successful films.

The court convicted Cetin of insulting Erdogan and sentenced him to one year and 15 days in prison but suspended the sentence for five years, the BirGun daily reported on its website. There was no official confirmation of the sentence.

Without specifying further, the report said Cetin had been stripped of his parental rights. He said he would appeal on the grounds of the fact he was convicted of insulting the president although Erdogan had been premier at the time.

This case had previously not been publicised and is separate from another widely publicised investigation also involving Erdogan and Gollum.

A doctor in the western province of Aydin, Bilgin Ciftci, is facing up to two years in jail for "insulting" the president after sharing images of Erdogan and Gollum. There have so far been no reports of an outcome in that case.

The cases come amid growing concern over the spiralling numbers of journalists, bloggers and ordinary people who are being taken to court on charges of insulting Erdogan and other top officials.

Erdogan's supporters say there is a line between criticism and abuse that must not be crossed. But critics accuse the president of wilfully abusing existing legislation that allows for the prosecution of citizens for insulting top state officials.

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