ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court on Thursday acquitted HSBC Turkey chief executive Selim Kervanci of a charge of insulting President Tayyip Erdogan by retweeting a video on social media at the time of nationwide protests in 2013.
Insulting the president is a crime punishable by up to four years in prison in Turkey and thousands of such cases have been opened since Erdogan became president in 2014.
The latest case was launched after a complaint by a private citizen. Kervanci told the court he did not intend to insult anyone by retweeting the video and had not viewed the video before sharing it.
“When I did this there was no way I could have intended any insult,” he told the court before the verdict was announced. “I work in an international bank. An unjust decision would harm my career and would harm my country’s prestige.”
The video in question was an excerpt of the 2004 German feature film “Downfall” which depicts Adolf Hitler’s last days and the collapse of Nazi Germany.
The incident occurred at the time of protests which began against the redevelopment of central Istanbul’s Gezi Park and grew into nationwide anti-government unrest.
Sixteen civil society figures, writers and actors are facing trial over their alleged roles in the protests, accused of seeking to overthrow Erdogan’s government in 2013.
Reporting by Ebru Tuncay and Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer