Turkish designer Barbaros Şansal was arrested on charges of “inciting hatred among the public” and “insulting” on Jan. 3.
His arrest comes after he was attacked by a group of assailants on the apron of Istanbul Atatürk
Airport upon arrival after being expelled from Northern Cyprus over insensitive social media posts. Police detained him at the airport following the attack on Jan. 3.
Before the arrest order, Şansal gave his testimony to police, saying that one of the posts included in the accusation was not actually shared by him.
“The Twitter post where it was written ‘Sunni Muslims wearing Father Christmas costumes attacked people [at the club] because its owner and all its workers are Alevis’ was not written by me. But the Twitter message where it was written that ‘The owner is Jewish, the complainant is Sunni, and the manager is Alevi. Santa Claus, ha’ was written by me. I shared this post at 3:00 a.m. after the Reina terrorist attack that was conducted at 1:20 a.m. on Jan. 1,” he reportedly testified.
Şansal also stated that his posts contained no hate speech and merely aimed to draw attention to aggrieved people with different beliefs from the conservative majority.
Commenting on the controversial New Year’s Eve video he filmed that was also included in the accusation, he denied accusations and said his words intended to be satirical.
Şansal was expelled on Jan. 2 from Northern Cyprus, where he had gone to spend New Year’s Eve, after posting a video on social media calling on people to “continue to celebrate while there is this much filthiness, vileness, and impoverishment” in Turkey. At the end of the video Şansal also recorded himself cursing the country.
After leaving Northern Cyprus and arriving at Istanbul’s Atatürk
Airport, Şansal was recorded on a phone camera being attacked by a group of men on the apron. The attack intensified after he fell on the steps leading from the plane, and his lawyer said he was injured in his back, kidneys and crotch.
The attackers were dispersed by anti-terror police officers escorting him and Şansal was taken to a police station to be interrogated after being directly taken to a vehicle waiting at the apron.
At the police headquarters Şansal was questioned about the content of his posts and said his “aim in recording the video had been distorted.”
Meanwhile, 20 people identified as Turkish Ground Services (TGS) employees were also interrogated over the attack against Şansal.
“We could not resist our national feelings. We shouted. But due to police shield we could not do anything,” one of them reportedly said.
Other interrogated personnel acknowledged that Şansal was attacked but denied causing any injuries.