World

ANKARA (Web Desk) – A man who portrayed Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as the ‘Lord of the Rings’ villain Gollum has been convicted of insulting the president and warned that he may be punished with a possible year-long jail term in case of a similar offense in the future, the Hürriyet newspaper reported.

Dr Çiftçi, who was expelled from his job at the Public Health Institution of Turkey in October, compares three images of Mr Erdogan with Gollum, brought to life in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy by Andy Serkis. The images draw a comparison between both figures as they are seen eating, and expressing surprise and amazement.

A court in the southwestern province of Antalya sentenced Rıfat Çetin to a year in jail, a sentence, however, that it suspended for five years, media reports say.

Under Turkish law, the offence is punishable by up to four years in prison.

Prosecutors have accused more than 1,800 people, including cartoonists and a former Miss Turkey, of insulting Erdogan, who has dominated – and polarized – Turkish politics for a decade and a half.

The court also stripped Çetin of his parental custody rights, the Hürriyet said, without giving details. A court official declined to comment on the case when contacted by Reuters.

Earlier, Çetin had posted an image on Facebook in 2014 in which he combined three pictures of Erdogan with Gollum, the newspaper said.

Çetin told another newspaper, daily BirGün, he planned to appeal the verdict given that Erdogan was not president, but prime minister when the image was posted.