HSBC CEO acquitted in Erdogan insult case


ISTANBUL • The CEO of HSBC Holdings plc’s Turkish unit was acquitted over allegations that he insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during anti-government protests nearly six years ago.

Selim Kervanci was investigated by prosecutors over a video he retweeted during the so-called Gezi protests in 2013.

A clip he shared was from the 2004 German movie “Downfall”, set during Adolf Hitler’s last days and depicting the collapse of Nazi Germany.

The indictment, accepted by an Istanbul court in January, alleged that the video offended Erdogan by drawing parallels with Hitler.

“I had no intention to insult,” Kervanci told the court. The developments amount to “an assault on my career and my reputation”, he added.

Kervanci informed the banking regulator immediately after receiving the complaint against him in 2018 and officials had no objection with him continuing in his job, the court heard.

Kervanci was one of the highest-profile executives caught up in the government’s crackdown on dissent that escalated after the 2013 protests, when a small sit-in against the redevelopment of the Gezi Park in central Istanbul morphed into weeks of nationwide protests against the government.

Erdogan often describes the demonstrations as a precursor to the failed coup to remove him in July 2016, which was followed by even worse restrictions against free speech. — Bloomberg