Europe

Turkish designer Barbaros Sansal jailed after mob attacks him

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Media captionMobile phone footage of the moment fashion designer Barbaros Sansal was attacked

A fashion designer has been charged with inciting hatred on social media and imprisoned - a day after he came under attack at Istanbul's main airport.

Barbaros Sansal is an outspoken critic of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party.

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

He also spoke of "scores of journalists" jailed in Turkey as well as abused children, corruption and bribery.

Shortly afterwards, a gunman attacked one of the most famous nightclubs in Istanbul, killing 39 people. The attack was claimed by jihadist group Islamic State.

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

As he was leaving the plane in Istanbul, he was attacked by passengers on the same Turkish Airlines flight along with baggage handlers shouting "traitor!"

Image copyright Barbaros Sansal
Image caption Mr Sansal was bitterly critical of the situation in Turkey in his video tirade

Mr Sansal was rushed away from the scene by what are believed to have been plainclothes policemen, who had come to arrest him as he landed.

Video footage of the attack on Mr Sansal was shared thousands of times on social media.

How such an attack took place at an international airport has prompted concerns about security failure.

There are also questions about whether it was an organised attack.

Local reports suggested that 20 people identified as airport employees were questioned by police.

"We could not resist our national feelings. We shouted. But due to a police cordon we could not do anything," one of them reportedly said. However, other workers acknowledged that the fashion designer was subjected to physical violence.

And it is Barbaros Sansal who has been detained, in one of the biggest prisons in Turkey, where many imprisoned journalists are being held.

He is accused of "inciting hatred among the public" for his outspoken comments.

Image copyright Twitter

Some have praised the treatment he was given. Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek posted footage of the incident calling it "the nation's response".

One tweet read: "The man swears at the country and they defend him. Whoever defends him is also a traitor."

"Whoever you are, if you are not happy about being a Turk or living in this country, no-one forces you to stay here. Just go," read another.

Turkey has a poor record on free speech, with at least 81 journalists behind bars, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and more than 130 media outlets have been shut since the failed coup last July.

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