Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a crowd ahead of local elections on 30 March.Reuters

Turkish scholar and journalist Onder Aytac has been sentenced to 10 months in prison by an Ankara court for insulting prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter.

Aytac, an ex-police official, is a well-known writer for the opposition newspaper Taraf, which is part of Erdogan's former-ally Gulen movement - now one of the AKP government's worst enemies.

The tweet in question was posted in response the government's announcement that it would be shutting down private schools, including those run by the Gulen movement.

The move was caused by a deepening feud between Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen - an influential cleric in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, US which commands a global empire of private schools with the eponymous movement.

The columnist, who has 180,000 followers on Twitter said:

Which translates in "CLOSE THEM DOWN MY CHIEF :)".

The word "ustam" translates to "my chief" or "my master" and is a common nickname for Erdogan among his supporters, according to Zeynep Tufekci, social media expert and assistant professor at the University of North Carolina.

However, it is the the letter "k" added at the end of the word which "transforms the end portion of the word to an off-colour abbreviation, in effect writing 'eff off'," according to Tufekci.

The journalist claimed that it was just a typo and that he had never meant to add the "k" to the end of the tweet.