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Peter Jackson Defends Turkish Man Facing Jail for Gollum Joke

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Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings movies, has jumped to the defense of a Turkish man on trial for comparing his president to the character Gollum.

A physician named Bilgin Ciftci faces up to two years in prison for the following images comparing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Hobbit-like creature played by a computer-aided Andy Serkis in the movie series:

It is a crime in Turkey to insult the president. But in a statement to The Wrap, Jackson said the images were no insult as they were of Smeagol, Gollum’s friendly alter-ego.

“If the images below are in fact the ones forming the basis of this Turkish lawsuit, we can state categorically: None of them feature the character known as Gollum. All of them are images of the character called Smeagol,” Jackson said, along with screenwriters Fran Walsh and Phillippa Boyens. “Smeagol is a joyful, sweet character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious.”

The Turkish court had called in character experts to assess whether a comparison to Gollum would be considered an insult. Ciftci’s hearing is scheduled for February 2016.

Read Next: A Turkish Court Is Trying to Figure Out if It’s an Insult to Compare the President to Gollum

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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.Rogers@time.com