Ousted Miss Turkey faces ‘up to one year jail’ over tweet

Itir Esen won Miss Turkey 2017 in September but then had her crown taken away because of what organizers said an “unacceptable tweet” she sent around the first anniversary of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. (AP)
Updated 07 December 2017
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Ousted Miss Turkey faces ‘up to one year jail’ over tweet

ISTANBUL: The winner of Turkey’s national beauty pageant, who was forced to hand back her crown over a contentious tweet, is facing up to one year in jail on charges of “publicly denigrating” elements in Turkish society, a report said on Thursday.
Itir Esen, 18, won Miss Turkey 2017 in September but then had her crown taken away because of what organizers said an “unacceptable tweet” she sent around the first anniversary of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
As a result, she missed the chance to represent Turkey in the Miss World competition in China and prosecutors also opened a criminal probe against her.
In the tweet, she compared the blood shed in her menstrual cycle with that of the 249 people who lost their lives during the failed coup and are now celebrated in Turkey as martyrs.
“I am having my period this morning to celebrate the July 15 martyrs’ day. I am celebrating the day by bleeding on behalf of our martyrs’ blood,” she wrote.
Turkish prosecutors are seeking up to one year jail for Esen on charges of “publicly denigrating some part of society based on their class, race, religion, sect, gender or regional differences,” the private Dogan news agency quoted the indictment as saying.
An Istanbul court is due to decide whether to approve the indictment within 15 days, Dogan said.
After the tweet was discovered, Esen’s title was handed to Asli Sumen, who came second and who will now represent Turkey in the Miss World contest in China on November 18.
Esen had confirmed she posted the tweet, which she said was written “carelessly” but added that it had no political aims.
Critics say the state of freedom of expression is deteriorating in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as thousands have been prosecuted for social media postings deemed to have insulted the Turkish leader since he came to office in 2014.
Prosecutors in 2015 launched an investigation against former Miss Turkey beauty queen Merve Buyuksarac on charges of insulting Erdogan through social media posts.
But her 14-month sentence was suspended on condition that she does not reoffend within the next five years.


UK slams Russian pranksters over Boris Johnson ‘Armenia’ call

Updated 24 May 2018
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UK slams Russian pranksters over Boris Johnson ‘Armenia’ call

LONDON: Britain’s Foreign Office on Thursday criticized “childish” Russian pranksters who phoned Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson posing as the leader of Armenia.
The Guardian newspaper said that Johnson was called by Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, known as Lexus and Vovan.
One pretended to be new Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, and the newspaper said that Johnson spoke to them for 18 minutes, discussing topics including the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal.
A recording of the call, said to have taken place last week, was posted on YouTube.
In the recording, Johnson says Britain is “almost 100 percent sure” President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin ordered the attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Moscow denies involvement in the incident, which has sparked a crisis in UK-Russia relations.
Johnson is also heard lamenting the poor state of UK relations with Russia, saying Moscow seems “unable to resist malign activity of one kind or another.”
The Foreign Office said Johnson “realized it was a hoax, and ended the call. We checked it out and knew immediately it was a prank call.”
“The use of chemical weapons in Salisbury and Syria and recent events in Armenia are serious matters,” it said in a statement. “These childish actions show the lack of seriousness of the caller and those behind him.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said “obviously this shouldn’t have happened,” and announced there would be a government investigation into how the hoaxers got through to Johnson.
Britain suspects the comedy duo have backing from the Kremlin.
Stolyarov and Kuznetsov, who have fooled high-profile victims around the world, have denied links to Russia’s security services. In 2015, they phoned Elton John pretending to be Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had criticized the leader.