The Turkish authorities opened criminal cases against 3,658 people for allegedly “insulting” President Tayyip Erdogan in 2016, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday, citing the Justice Ministry.
Over the course of the year, 46,193 cases were opened against people who are accused of the more general crime of “insulting Turkey, the Turkish nation or Turkish government institutions.”
Critics of Erdogan say the insult law – long on the books but previously little-used – is being employed as a means to intimidate and punish opponents.
In 2016, a court convicted a former Miss Turkey of insulting Erdogan on social media.
The issue has spilled over to Germany, where Erdogan also filed a case against a satirist Jan Boehmermann, who read a poem containing some obscene language on a television show, which raised freedom of speech issues in the European country.
Erdogan became president in 2014 after serving as prime minister for more than a decade.