ISTANBUL: A famous Turkish actor testified to Istanbul prosecutors on Monday after authorities opened a probe into whether comments he made on television threatened President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with death, local media reported.
Metin Akpinar, also a well-known comedian in Turkey, is accused of making “insulting” statements that alluded to Erdogan.
“If we do not reach this (democracy), like what happened to all forms of fascism, the leader might be hung from his feet or maybe poisoned in the cellars or meet the same end as other leaders in the past,” he reportedly said on television on Friday.
The Istanbul public prosecutor said on Sunday that Akpinar was being investigated over “insulting comments that targeted the Turkish president with coup and death threats.”
Akpinar, 77, and another Turkish actor, Mujdat Gezen, had been taken by police officers separately to give testimony in the same investigation.
Akpinar had also claimed on opposition Halk TV that any leader who “turned to Russia except Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) left office” through coups.
Ataturk was the founder of modern Turkey.
Turkey has witnessed three military coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980. In 1997, an army-led campaign forced the government to resign and then in July 2016, there was an attempted overthrow of Erdogan blamed on a US-based Muslim preacher.
Akpinar said democracy was the “only option to save Turkey from polarization.”
Gezen, 75, was more direct in his remarks against Erdogan on the same program: “He tells the people ‘know your place’. Look Recep Tayyip Erdogan, you cannot test our patriotism. Know your place.”
The investigation into the men came after the president said on Sunday: “They should be brought to account for this by the judiciary.”
Erdogan hit out at the “so-called artists” during a speech in Istanbul. “We cannot leave this business without giving a response, they will pay the price.”
Thousands of Turks including artists and journalists have been prosecuted in recent years over allegedly insulting Erdogan, although most have not been imprisoned.