Opposition party official receives jail sentence for tweet saying U.S. fined Halkbank

An Istanbul court on Tuesday sentenced an opposition centre-right Good (İYİ) Party official to 10 months in prison and 16,660 lira ($ 2.740) fine over his tweet claiming that a Turkish bank received a significant fine for its involvement in a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Good Party High Advisory Board member Kerim Yılmaz’s tweet regarding Turkey’s Halkbank was in violation of Article 5411 of the Banking Law, which stipulates that damaging the reputation of a bank is a crime, pro-government Hürriyet newspaper reported.

Yılmaz was one of a few people briefly detained in May 2018 over their social media comments on  Turkish state-owned Halkbank after deputy general manager Hakan Atilla was convicted of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and sentenced to 32 months in prison in a high-profile case in 2018.

Yılmaz’s tweet dated May 24, 2018, indicated that U.S. officials had fined Halbank a significant amount over the sanctions-busting scheme.

The Halkbank case was one of the several sources of tension between Turkey and the United States in 2018 when a diplomatic spat between the NATO allies sent the Turkish lira plummeting to historic lows against the dollar.