Judge's Strange Order: Study Gollum, Then Fill Me In
Turkish justice is deciding slander case against president
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2015 1:11 PM CST
Should Erdogan be flattered or insulted?   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Experts recruited in the case of a man accused of insulting Turkey's president have been given some interesting homework: study the character Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Bilgin Ciftci is accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan—a prisonable offense in Turkey—after sharing photos of the politician and Gollum in similar poses. The judge on the case admitted he hadn't seen enough of the Lord of the Rings series to determine whether the comparison is insulting and appointed a panel of experts to study the character in detail. The experts include two academics, two behavioral scientists, and a TV and film expert, reports Today's Zaman, per the BBC. The panel will have two and a half months to study the character—the case has been adjourned until February—but it isn't clear how it will come to its decision.

Ciftci's lawyer jokes the trial has become "a case of saving the pride of Gollum," per the Telegraph. Though Gollum is first introduced as "a small, slimy creature" and is known for eating raw fish, talking to himself, and appearing rather ugly, Ciftci argues Gollum is actually the hero of the series. It's an idea supported by many LOTR fans because of how Gollum helps Frodo and Sam. A few on social media suggest a comparison between Erdogan and an evil lord would be more fitting amid what some call "the worst crackdown on the press in the republic's history," per the Guardian. The Telegraph reports more than 200 people were investigated for insulting Ergodan from August 2014 to March 2015. (Erdogan previously blocked Twitter and YouTube.)