A Turkish court acquitted HSBC Turkey chief executive Selim Kervancı of charges that he insulted president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by comparing him to Adolf Hitler.
Selim Kervanci was charged with insulting a state employee for reposting a video deemed to be insulting to Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time.
The HSBC boss 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 work in an international bank. An unjust decision would harm my career and would harm my country’s prestige"
Kervanci told the court on Thursday that he had no intention of insulting anyone and that he had retweeted the video before watching it with the sole intention of viewing it at a later time.
"When I did this there was no way I could have intended any insult," he told the court before the verdict was announced. "I work in an international bank. An unjust decision would harm my career and would harm my country's prestige."
Insulting the president is a crime punishable by up to four years in prison in Turkey. The case was launched after a complaint by a private citizen.
Erdogan's lawyers were absent from the hearing at Istanbul's Anatolian Justice Palace, the nation's largest public building.
The verdict comes at a time when Erdogan's ‘invincibility' has been called into question by the Ankara and Istanbul defeats his AKP party suffered in the end of March local elections, despite fierce campaigning by the president.