Turkish prosecutors file lawsuit against fashion designer for insulting Erdoğan

Turkish prosecutors have filed a case against Turkish fashion designer Barbaros Şansal for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a series of tweets last year, T24 news site reported on Tuesday.

Prosecutors are demanding a five-year prison term for Şansal over tweets dating back to March 2018, it said.

The indictment cites five tweets by Şansal, including one which said, "a columnist of the pro-government Star (newspaper) says that FETO (Gülenists) may be planning to assassinate Erdogan by infecting him with AIDS".

Gülenists are followers of Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based cleric who Ankara accuses of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt.

The designer reposted the tweet along with an article on AIDS with the title “Transmittable by blood”.

Şansal said he found it comical that the Justice Ministry would allow such an investigation.

The designer made headlines in 2017, when he was arrested in north Cyprus and deported to Turkey over a video on social media in which he criticised the Turkish government and the people of Turkey. 

He was assaulted by a large group at the apron as he left the plane upon arrival at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

The 62-year-old designer was found guilty of public contempt of the Turkish nation and the Republic of Turkey and given a six-month and 20-day prison sentence. He was released after the sentence was suspended.