A local court in Ankara has fined Armenian-origin columnist Hayko Bağdat 1,160 Turkish Liras for “insulting” Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek via his Twitter account, after Gökçek complained that he had used the words “Armenian” and “disgusting” to describe him, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
In his defense, Bağdat said Gökçek repeatedly asks his critics on social media whether they are “Armenian,” adding that the Ankara mayor is “disgusting” for using the term “Armenian” to describe people he dislikes. He demanded his acquittal and told the court that he did not deliberately intend to “insult” Gökçek.
Ali Deniz Ceylan, Bağdat’s lawyer, also told the court that Gökçek, who is well-known in Turkey as a prolific Twitter user, has tweeted many derogatory statements against which his client has responded.
However, Judge Süleyman Köksaldı sentenced Bağdat to a fine of 1,160 liras, while also delaying a compensation lawsuit opened by Gökçek against Bağdat.
Shortly after the ruling, Bağdat slammed the decision via his Twitter account on Dec. 7.
“My last words on this issue: Gökçek is committing a hate crime by calling anyone he dislikes ‘Armenian.’ This is disgusting behavior. Also, Gökçek himself is an Armenian,” he tweeted.
Back on Sept. 28, Bağdat told reporters that he faced a jail term after calling Gökçek “Armenian.”
“Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek has opened a court case [because] I called him ‘Armenian.’ Let me say why I called him ‘Armenian.’ Whenever he grabs a microphone or takes the keyboard in his hands, he calls his political rivals, the voters of his political rivals … journalists, and anyone he is angry with, ‘Armenian.’ He constantly says they are traitors because they are ‘Armenians’ or they have ‘Armenian’ roots, as if all elements making trouble for this country must somehow have a relationship to ‘Armenianness,’” he said.