Indictment seeks 10.5 years for opposition politician in case involving Erdoğan aide

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An indictment drafted by an İstanbul prosecutor seeks a jail sentence of up to 10-and-a-half years for a politician from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on separate charges due to her alleged role in the photographing of the house of a presidential aide.

İstanbul prosecutors in April started investigating CHP İstanbul provincial executive Canan Kaftancıoğlu for allegedly “promoting crime and criminals,” “praising crime and criminals” and “violating privacy” over a tweet in support of Suat Özçağdaş, a fellow member of the CHP İstanbul provincial organization who was already under investigation for allegedly photographing the house of Fahrettin Altun, the communications director of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Özçağdaş reportedly photographed Altun’s house after a public controversy erupted over Altun’s illegal construction on land adjacent to his own that he leased from a public authority for a monthly fee of only TL 258 ($33). In his statement to the prosecutors, Özçağdaş reportedly said he received orders from Kaftancıoğlu to photograph Altun’s house.

The illegal construction was demolished by the CHP-held İstanbul Municipality. CHP members on the city council have also filed criminal complaints against Altun.

If the indictment against Kaftancıoğlu is accepted by the court, the politician will soon have to appear before a panel of judges.

Prosecutors actually decided to drop the initial investigation into the opposition politician, saying there were no legal grounds for further investigation and that her tweets about Altun were within the limits of freedom of speech. However, a new investigation was launched following an objection from Altun’s lawyers.

“No one can touch the CHP district executive for protecting public assets and safeguarding the public interest,” Kaftancıoğlu tweeted at the time. “The state authority is there to protect the public’s rights, and you will learn this whether you like it or not. You will also learn that those engaging in illegal construction in disregard of the law are called city bandits!”

Kaftancıoğlu is regarded as one of the architects of the CHP’s municipal election victory in İstanbul last year, which ended Erdoğan’s long-running rule in the city and dealt a significant blow to his ruling party.

In September 2019 she was sentenced to nine years in prison for allegedly insulting Erdoğan and spreading terrorist propaganda. She is free pending appeal.

Kaftancıoğlu was elevated to “special protection” status by Turkish authorities after she and her family received death threats. However, the government withdrew a protective detail it had assigned to Kaftancıoğlu after she was sentenced on insult charges.

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