By Rishi Iyengar
June 24, 2016

A man in Turkey has been given a one-year suspended prison sentence for insulting the country’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by depicting him as the character Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

A court in the southwest province of Antalya sentenced Rifat Cetin to one year in jail, suspended for five years, and took away his parental custody rights, the BBC reports. The crime of insulting the President of Turkey can result in up to four years in jail.

Cetin has insisted that the post he uploaded to Facebook in 2014, which shows three pictures of Erdogan alongside images of Gollum with similar facial expressions, was “harmless.” He will reportedly appeal the verdict, claiming that the law cannot apply to him because Erdogan was Prime Minister, not President, at the time.

Gollum is depicted in the Lord of the Rings books and films as a “small, slimy creature” driven mad by his desire for the ring.

Erdogan and his government have been criticized for becoming increasingly intolerant of dissent. Nearly 2,000 cases — against a former Miss Turkey and a 12-year-old boy among them — have been opened for insulting the Turkish leader in recent years. Cetin is not even the only person in trouble for comparing Erdogan to Gollum, with a physician named Bilgin Cifti being terminated from his job last year for sharing similar images.

[BBC]

Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com.

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