Turkish designer Barbaros Şansal sentenced to prison over social media post

An Istanbul court on Sept. 7 sentenced world-famous fashion designer Barbaros Şansal to almost four months in prison over a video that he posted on social media in 2017. The court found Şansal guilty of “explicitly insulting the Turkish Republic,” without deferring the sentence and without turning it into a monetary fine. 

Duvar English

An Istanbul court has sentenced Turkish fashion designer Barbaros Şansal to three months and 22 days on the grounds of "explicitly insulting the Turkish Republic” in a 2017 social media post, Demirören news agency reported.

The case was launched by authorities following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's complaint against Şansal, who is known as an outspoken critic of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The final hearing of the case took place at the Istanbul 52nd Penal Court of First Instance on Sept. 7.

Şansal's lawyers said that the video that the fashion designer put on social media on Dec. 1, 2017 did not include any remarks of “insult,” although they might be interpreted to be a “heavy criticism.”

Erdoğa's lawyer Ela Ezgi Yelmen on the other hand said that their complaint remains valid and demanded Şansal to be given a penalty.

In its decision, the court sentenced the fashion designer to three months and 22 days in prison, without deferring the sentence as Şansal was convicted in another case on similar charges in 2017. The court also rejected to turn the sentence into an administrative fine.

Şansal has a right to take the ruling to the appeals court.

Earlier this year, Şansal said that he moved to Northern Cyprus because he felt his life and property were not safe in Turkey.

In 2017, Şansal already spent three months in prison in pre-trial detention for a social media post criticizing the Turkish government and state. 

On New Year's Eve in 2017, Şansal posted a video on his Twitter account denouncing those out celebrating "while there is so much filth, vileness and poverty" in the country.

The following day Şansal was expelled from Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus where he was on holiday.

As he was leaving the plane in Istanbul, he was attacked and beaten up by a nationalist mob.

He later appeared in court and was arrested the following day, charged with “inciting the public to hatred or hostility” under Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code.

After being released from prison on March 2, 2017, he wrote a book about his treatment in prison, his arrest and attempted lynching.