HSBC director general in Turkey faces investigation on Erdoğan insult charges

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Süleyman Selim Kervancı

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into the HSBC bank director general in Turkey on charges of insulting Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Monday.

According to the probe, the investigation into Süleyman Selim Kervancı was launched due to a tweet he posted five years ago during the anti-government Gezi Park protests when Erdoğan was prime minister of the country.

Kervancı reportedly posted video footage from the movie “Downfall,” which tells of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s final days. In the footage, titled “Farewell kiss of Hitler: He complains about the spreading of the Gezi Park protests,” the subtitles were changed as if the dictator got angry due to the failure of the Turkish police to suppress the Gezi Park protests in the summer of 2013.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in 2013 to protest a plan to build a replica of an Ottoman barracks in Gezi Park in the Taksim neighborhood of İstanbul. The protests turned into a direct challenge to Erdoğan’s government.

The investigation into Kervancı is being conducted by the İstanbul Anatolia Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. The director general of HSBC on Sept.13 was reportedly summoned to police headquarters in İstanbul to testify.

Kervancı said the video was first posted by journalist Ayşe Arman and he retweeted it to watch later since Arman was a prominent journalist in the country and he was not aware of what the video was about.

“If there is an insult to our president or other public servants in the video, I posted it unconsciously. The (anonymous) complainant filed this criminal case against me to damage me and my professional reputation,” Kervancı added.

Insulting the president can call for a sentence of between one and four years, according to the Turkish Penal Code.

Hundreds of people in Turkey, even including high school students, face charges of insulting President Erdoğan. The slightest criticism is considered insult, and there has been a rise in the number of cases in which people inform on others claiming that they insulted the president, the government or government officials.

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