00:08 GMT +319 September 2018
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    Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, December 5, 2017

    Germany Kills Speech Law Turkish Leader Used to Sue Satirist

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    Speaking freely about foreign heads of state became a little bit easier for German citizens on Monday.

    Paragraph 103 in the German criminal code prohibits insulting foreign heads of state and other official organs of foreign governments. That law passed away with 2017 though, after the German legislature announced January 1 that the criminal statute had been removed in accordance with a vote that took place last summer.

    Before the lèse-majesté law was scrapped, perpetrators could face up to three years in jail.

    In 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan filed a lawsuit against German satirist Jan Böhmermann, who recited a poem on late night TV calling the Turkish leader "stupid, cowardly and uptight" before joking that he watched kiddie porn and participated in bestiality.

    The suit led to a rift between Berlin and Ankara and within the German government itself, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel ultimately authorized a request that the German national be prosecuted. "I consider this to be the wrong decision," Thomas Oppermann, leader of the opposition Social Democratic party, said at the time. "Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age," he added.

    The case against the comedian was dropped the same year. In February 2017, though, a Hamburg court stated that Böhmermann was prohibited from repeating the lines in the poem offensive toward Erdogan on TV.

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    Tags:
    free speech, lese-majeste, Angela Merkel, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Germany
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