Erdoğan sues opposition politician over remarks calling him a ‘dictator’

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a lawsuit against a main opposition party politician seeking TL 250,000 ($32,000) in damages for remarks accusing Erdoğan of being a dictator, the Anadolu news agency reported on Monday.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy group chairman Özgür Özel made the comments that apparently angered Erdoğan at a news conference in the Turkish Parliament on Dec. 17.

He was responding to recent remarks made by Erdoğan, who accused the opposition in Turkey of getting involved in the activities of the “fifth column,” a term that originated in Spain during the early phase of its civil war, between 1936 and 1939. The fifth column is now used to described any group of people who through overt or clandestine activities undermine a larger group from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation.

“You came to power in a democratic election, and at the end of 18 years you adopt the discourse of Spanish dictator [Francisco] Franco. Shame on you! Our nation will give this incompetent dictator — a fan of Franco — [a defeat] at the ballot box in the next election, and he will go out the way he came in,” said Özel.

The opposition politician said accusing opposition parties of acting like the fifth column has no place in a democracy.

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 initiated against a total of 63,041 people on charges of insulting the president over the past five years, beginning with Erdoğan’s election as president in 2014 until the end of 2019.

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