Former Pegasus employee sentenced in jail over photo with rakı on Islamic holy night applies for asylum in US

A former airline company Pegasus employee, who was handed down a jail term over sharing a social media photo showing him and colleagues drinking rakı on a Islamic holy night, has announced he sought asylum in the U.S. after entering “illegally.”

Duvar English

A former employee of the airline company Pegagus has announced that he soght asylum in the U.S. after entering the country “illegally,” after being sentenced to 3 months and 22 days in jail over a social media post showing himself and colleagues drinking alcohol on the 27th night of Ramadan, which is called “Kadir Gecesi” (known as Lailat al Kadr or the Night of Power), last year.

In a YouTube interview, Onur T. said he was not paid any compensation after the company fired him for “theft.”

“I filed a countersuit, it continues. We couldn't even fix the reason for my dismissal yet,” he said.

“I couldn't work for a year. I thought maybe they would suspend me. In an evening, they called me from HR and said 'come here and resign'. I said, 'I can't come, I can’t go out in the streets.' They said, 'If we fire you, we will do it from ‘disgraceful crime.' They fired me over phone,” he added.

The case concerned a photo shared by Onur T. on Instagram with the note of: “Exclusive to Kadir Gecesi, may God accept.” The photo showed Onur T. drinking rakı, the staple Turkish alcoholic beverage, with colleagues.  

After the post drew the reaction of Islamists, Pegasus fired Onur T. and issued a statement saying that it had “no connection” to the relevant social media post.

Also, prosecutors launched an investigation into the former Pegasus employee over charges of “explicitly insulting the values of religious values embraced by a fraction of society,” demanding up to 1.5 years in prison.