Turkey’s Erdoğan threatens main opposition leader with trial over links to jailed deputy

Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition CHP's leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Turkey’s autocratic President and the Chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday implied that main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu could stand trial in relation to the case of arrested CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Berberoğlu was arrested in June immediately after he was handed down a prison sentence of 25 years for leaking information for a report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting weapons to jihadists in Syria.

“The person [Kılıçdaroğlu] who runs the main opposition party tries to act preemptively and muddy the waters over concern that the case of a deputy who is now in prison due to a crime against the country could reach himself,” said Erdoğan during a speech to party members in Antalya province.

“Don’t be surprised if a link between Kılıçdaroğlu and the person [Berberoğlu] in prison is revealed soon. I am receiving different news from the prison. ‘I will speak if I am not released,’ says the person in prison,” added Erdoğan.

Kılıçdaroğlu has been targeted by Erdoğan since he launched a March for Justice in June to protest the arrest of Berberoğlu.

During the CHP’s March for Justice, Erdoğan implied that Kılıçdaroğlu could be detained or brought before a court to testify for holding the march.

Erdoğan recently slammed Kılıçdaroğlu for remarks to German Focus magazine warning tourists against travel to Turkey and said that “he will pay the price.”

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Şanlıurfa deputy and spokesperson Osman Baydemir on Thursday said it would be no surprise if Kılıçdaroğlu were to be arrested, dha reported.

“People are arrested for the crime of criticizing the AKP and criticizing Erdoğan. Do not be surprised if Kılıçdaroğlu is arrested. Frankly speaking  I myself would not be surprised,” said Baydemir in a statement during the Justice Watch, which was launched by the HDP last month as part of a series of events protesting the arrest of Kurdish deputies.

Staunchly pro-government Yeni Akit daily columnist Mehtap Yılmaz in a Monday article called for the arrest of the CHP leader and three CHP deputies.

Accusing Kılıçdaroğlu of “explicitly committing crimes,” “serving the Middle Eastern goals of the European Union by defaming his country” and “supporting putschists,” Yılmaz said the CHP leader has to be thrown out on in his ear and put in jail.

Erdoğan has also called on Sunday for a heightened witch-hunt against people in his party allegedly linked to the Gülen movement. “We will not harbor people linked to FETÖ [a derogatory term coined by the AKP government to refer to members of the Gülen movement] under the roof of our party,” said Erdoğan during a speech to party members in Antalya province.

“Inform us about the people linked to FETÖ. We have to immediately expel them,” added Erdoğan.

 

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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