'Lord of the Rings' Director May Testify in Turkey Trial Over Gollum 'Insult'

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Erdogan and Gollum: See the resemblance?
Erdogan and Gollum: See the resemblance?Credit: Haaretz

"Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson may be called to testify before a Turkish court as to whether a Turkish citizen insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by supposedly comparing him to a character from Jackson's movies.

Erdogan is sueing Bilgin Ciftci, a physician from the western city of Aydin, sho shared pictures on social media of the president juxtaposed with those of Gollum, the "small, slimy creature" immortalized in J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels and featured in the films. 

"The prosecutor didn't watch the movie and he defined Gollum as 'the monster in a bad role,'" said Ciftci's lawyer Hicran Danisman. "But we said Gollum can't be defined as evil. The character itself is a war between good and bad. He is basically seen as a victim of society." 

In a statement to The Wrap website, Jackson said that that the images used by the doctor are in fact of Smeagol, the good side of the two-sided character.

"If the images below are in fact the ones forming the basis of this Turkish lawsuit, we can state categorically: None of them feature the character known as Gollum," Jackson said in the statement, which was also signed by screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

"All of them are images of the character called Smeagol, who is a joyful, sweet character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others.

"He is not evil, conniving, or malicious - these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Smeagol.”

Danisman told the Associated Press she was forced to argue Gollum's character in court because she "got nowhere" with a defense case based on freedom of expression.

The judge ruled that a committee of psychologists and movie experts would provide an assessment of Gollum's character.

The trial was adjourned until February 23.

Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey punishable by up to four years in jail. 

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, brooks little dissent and has sued dozens of people, including cartoonists, a former Miss Turkey winner and teenagers for supposedly insulting him.

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