Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into remarks by Dutch far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders who called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “terrorist”.
The chief public prosecutor’s office in the capital Ankara said in a statement on Tuesday that a probe had been opened because of a Twitter post “including a photograph and written insult about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Feb. 15”, Anadolu news agency reported.
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Wilders made the comments on Twitter on Monday and urged Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to expel the Turkish ambassador to the Netherlands. He also called for Turkey to be expelled from NATO.
Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, is one of Europe’s most prominent far-right politicians, although he has never been in government.
His comments drew a backlash from Turkish officials.
“This fascist who attacked our President would have been a damn Nazi if he had lived during World War Two. If he were living in the Middle East right now, he would be a Daesh murderer,” Omer Celik, a spokesman for Erdogan’s AK Party, said on Twitter, using another name for the armed group ISIL (ISIS).
Wilders was acquitted in a hate speech trial in 2011 for remarks likening Islam to Nazism and calling for a ban on the Quran.
In September 2020, he was acquitted by an appeals court of discrimination, although it upheld a conviction for intentionally insulting Moroccans.
Erdogan last year filed a separate criminal complaint in Turkey against Wilders over a cartoon image of him captioned “terrorist” and a separate image of a sinking ship with a Turkish flag.
The Turkish prosecutor’s office could not be reached on Tuesday to say whether that complaint had led to an investigation.
Rutte has criticised Turkish legal action against Wilders, saying the politician was exercising his right to free speech.