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Famous fashion designer sentenced to prison for insulting Turkish gov’t

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A prison sentence of three months, 22 days has been handed down to famous Turkish fashion designer Barbaros Şansal on charges of insulting the government in one of his tweets in 2017, BBC Turkish edition reported on Tuesday.

Şansal was tried in absentia based on a criminal complaint filed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on charges of insulting the government of the Republic of Turkey.

The fashion designer was convicted of insult by an İstanbul court, which refused to suspend the sentence or convert it to a fine because Şansal’s criminal record requires that a prison sentence be served when it is longer than three months.

Şansal has the right to appeal the court’s ruling.

In the tweet that resulted in his prison sentence, Şansal expressed happiness over the release from prison of academic Nuriye Gülmen and the acquittal of teacher Semih Özakça of charges of membership in a terrorist organization and terrorism propaganda by a high criminal court in December 2017. Both had been fired through government decrees in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016 and had been on a hunger strike demanding reinstatement to their jobs.

“And Semih has been acquitted…. And Nuriye has been released… And the dirt of the government is before the eyes of the entire world. No matter how far away I am, I always get happy about good news coming from the place where my roots are,” Şansal tweeted, adding that the people of Turkey will win against the government by resisting and will throw the government out.

Şansal was tried in absentia and not in court on Tuesday, although Erdoğan’s lawyers were in attendance.

Şansal was attacked by a group of passengers at an airport in İstanbul upon his return to Turkey. He was subsequently detained and then arrested. He was kept in pre-trial detention in the notorious Silivri Prison in İstanbul for two months and faced harassment due to his sexual identity during the initial days of his imprisonment, according to his own account.

Şansal left Turkey and settled in northern Cyprus after retiring from Turkish fashion design in October 2020. In an interview with Turkish Minute in June, the designer said he left Turkey because he felt his life and property were not safe in the country.

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