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Erdogan Sues Greek Newspaper Over Profane Headline

Αssociated Press

Turkey s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting, in Istanbul, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (Turkish Presidency via AP. Pool)

ANKARA -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has had dozens of journalists jailed, can't do that in Greece so his lawyers have filed a criminal complaint against a Greek newspaper for a headline that told him to “f**k off” - in Turkish.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu News Agency reported the legal action but didn't say in which court it was filed, with Erdogan – notorious for not accepting any kind of criticism – unhappy with the headling in Dimokratia.

It was also in English under the Turkish headline, with an asterisk but he got support from Greece's New Democracy, which is involved in a standoff with him for sending Turkish ships into Greek waters to look for oil and gas.

Greece wants the European Union to sanction Turkey over that move, the ships withdrawn for now, but the Greek government said regardless it was improper to insult a foreign leader, although there's little free speech in Turkey anyway.

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Greece’s Ambassador to the country to also lodge a formal complaint over the incident although New Democracy denounced the headline, saying that, “offensive language is contrary to our values.”

“Free speech and independence of the press are cherished by the Greek people and protected in our Constitution. This however, does not negate the responsibility to respect a foreign leader,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas tweeted.

In 2016, Erdogan demanded that Germany extradite a stand-up comic who read a poem the Turkish leader also found insulting and for a time it appeared German Chancellor Angela Merkel – Germany has 2.774 million Turks – was going to let it happen.

But German prosecutors, after an outcry that she was giving in to Erdogan and subjugating freedom of speech, said that the comic, Jan Böhmermann, wouldn't be taken int court because of insufficient evidence despite the poem he said he read to push the boundaries of satire. That's not allowed in Turkey.