Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a lawsuit against the head of the country’s main opposition party seeking TL 500,000 ($64,000) in damages for remarks accusing Erdoğan of conspiring against the Turkish military, according to Turkish media reports.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu made the comments that apparently angered Erdoğan at his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Dec. 1.
Erdoğan lawyer Hüseyin Aydın filed the lawsuit in an Ankara court, claiming that Kılıçdaroğlu targeted Erdoğan’s personality by accusing him of conspiring against the Turkish military.
In his speech on Tuesday, Kılıçdaroğlu accused Erdoğan of acting with followers of the Gülen movement in the judiciary and bureaucracy to plot against the Turkish military and of treason.
“Did you not give state information to foreign powers? People who do this have been called traitors throughout history and will be called traitors in the future as well,” Kılıçdaroğlu told Erdoğan.
Accusing a person of Gülen movement membership has been frequent in recent years in Turkey as the Turkish government labeled the faith-based group a terrorist organization in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016. The Turkish government points to the Gülen movement as the mastermind the abortive putsch, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.
Kılıçdaroğlu was referring to the trial of military officers and generals for involvement with Ergenekon, a clandestine network that was once considered the “deep state” in Turkey.
The Ergenekon investigations, which dominated Turkey’s domestic political agenda starting in 2008 and were aimed at holding the military accountable for unlawful actions as well as coup plots, had resulted in the trial of high-ranking generals, including former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, amid complaints of irregularities and the unjust imprisonment of allegedly uninvolved people.
At the time Erdoğan described himself as the “prosecutor” of the investigations against then-CHP leader Deniz Baykal, who defined himself as the “lawyer” of the defendants in the investigations. However, Erdoğan made a sharp U-turn following the eruption of a corruption scandal in late 2013 when he was the country’s prime minister, and in an effort to ally with the military and the secularists, called the Ergenekon investigations “plots” of the Gülen movement against the military.
Erdoğan has repeatedly sued people for alleged insults since he took office as president in 2014. Thousands have been convicted.
According to a recent report from CHP deputy Ali Mahir Başarır, cases have been launched into a total of 63,041 people on charges of insulting the president over the past five years, beginning with the election of Erdoğan to the presidency in 2014 until the end of 2019.