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Former Miss Turkey Faces Prison For Instagram Post Allegedly Insulting Turkish President

Merve Büyüksaraç has been accused by prosecutors of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by posting a satirical poem on her Instagram.

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Umut Tepe, an Istanbul prosecutor, is demanding that Büyüksaraç be charged for the crime of insulting a public official and sentenced to two years in prison, the model's lawyer told reporters Wednesday.

Büyüksaraç, 26, was detained last month for posting a quote from a satirical poem in which verses from the national anthem are used to criticize Erdoğan, The Telegraph reported.

According to Cihan news agency, she testified before a court in January, saying, "I don't precisely recall the content I have shared on my Instagram account. However, I might have taken excerpts from Twitter, other social media websites or the cartoon magazine Uykusuz. I did not personally adapt the poem titled 'The Poem of the Chief.' I shared it because it was funny to me. I did not intend to insult Recep Tayyip Erdoğan."

The industrial designer and writer reportedly told the court that she deleted the post after a friend, who had faced charges for sharing similar content, warned her of being prosecuted.

Büyüksaraç's fate is in the hands of a court which will decide whether to start proceedings, the AP reported.

The former beauty queen's possible prosecution underscores the country's shift to authoritarian rule under Erdoğan.

Last December, a 16-year-old was arrested at his school and imprisoned for allegedly insulting Erdoğan in a speech during a student protest. He reportedly said Erdoğan was the "thieving owner of the illegal palace." He was released from custody after his arrest sparked an uproar, but the boy still faces up to four years in prison pending a trial.

A Human Rights Watch report, released in September 2014, said Turkey under Erdoğan and his party, was "taking far-reaching steps to weaken the rule of law, control the media and Internet, and clamp down on critics and protestors."

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at

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