ISTANBUL: A prominent Turkish-Armenian blogger has been sent to jail on charges of illegal construction amid a graft scandal engulfing the government, local media reported Friday. Sevan Nisanyan was sentenced in December to two years in prison in a case he claims was punishment for his outspoken views about restrictions on freedom of expression.
“Unfortunately, this country is ruled by dwarves who have no vision. We all deserve a better country,” the 57-year-old was quoted as saying by CNN Turk as he headed to prison in the city of Izmir Thursday. “I do not regret what I have done. I am proud of what I have done.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is grappling with a probe that has ensnared several allies, some of whom are suspected of bribery over construction permits for protected areas.
And Nisanyan’s jail sentence caused an outcry on Twitter.
“In a country where some people can build a department store on an ancient city, how come Nisanyan is jailed for building without a permit?” wrote one user, Yasin Tekin.
Nisanyan also faces up to 16 years in prison on other charges related to construction work on hotels in a village near Izmir.
Nisanyan was previously convicted of blasphemy over a 2012 blog defending an anti-Islam film that ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad and sparked angry protests across the world.
His words touched a nerve in the staunchly secular but majority Muslim nation and he received hundreds of death threats.