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HSBC Turkey chief acquitted of Erdoğan insult charges

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A Turkish court has acquitted HSBC bank’s Turkey chief of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan through Twitter, Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday.

Selim Kervancı was charged with insulting a state employee for reposting a video in 2013 deemed to be insulting to Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time.

Kervancı told the court on Thursday that he had no intention of insulting anyone and that he had retweeted the video before watching it with the sole intention of viewing it at a later time.

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 to show the dictator getting 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.

Anadolu said the court ruled there was no criminal intent and acquitted Kervancı. 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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