Turkey: 1,845 Cases Opened for Insulting President

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators at his palace in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. Photo: Yasin Bulbul / Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's justice minister says as many as 1,845 cases have been opened against people accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since he came to office in 2014.

Erdogan has been accused of aggressively using a previously seldom-used law that bars insults to the president, as a way to muffle dissent. Those who have gone on trial include celebrities, journalists and even schoolchildren.

Critics say Erdogan, who has been accused of increasingly authoritarian traits, even considers strong criticism as insults.

Responding to questions in parliament late Monday, Bekir Bozdag said his ministry has allowed 1,845 cases on charges of insulting Erdogan to go ahead.

He defended the prosecutions, saying: "I am unable to read the insults leveled at our president. I start to blush."

Story: Associated Press