Turkish first lady faces criminal complaint over public funding of her cookbook

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Lawyers for a small opposition party have filed a criminal complaint against Turkey’s first lady and several officials accusing them of influence peddling and misconduct in the public funding of her recently published cookbook, the Duvar news website reported on Monday.

The complaint was filed by the People’s Liberation Party (HKP), a left-wing populist and anti-expansionist political party.

Turkish first lady Emine Erdoğan’s book, titled “Asırlık Tariflerle Türk Mutfağı” (Turkish Cuisine with Century-Old Recipes), was published by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, which paid TL 275,000 ($31,109) for printing and TL 700,000 ($79,186) on promotion expenses.

The HKP lawyers filed a complaint against Erdoğan, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Culture and Tourism deputy ministers, Tourism Promotion and Development Agency of Turkey (TGA) board members, Deputy General Director of Libraries and Publications Ali Odabaş and the deputy general directors of Libraries and Publications.

In the complaint filed with Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the lawyers argued that the individuals named should be charged with “influence peddling” and “misconduct.”

Noting that the Culture and Tourism Ministry has spent thousands of Turkish lira for the printing, distribution and promotion of a book claimed to have been written by Emine Erdoğan with questionable originality, the lawyers asked if the book has any merit to account for the huge sums paid for it.

Emine Erdoğan’s previous book, titled “Afrika Seyahatlerim” (My Travels to Africa), was introduced at the inauguration of Turkish House in New York, attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, top government officials and representatives of some foreign missions last week. 

It was launched shortly after the introduction of a book written by her husband.

At a time when Turkey is harshly criticized for gross human rights violations, President Erdoğan’s book, in which he talks about injustice around the world and how Turkey is working to address it, hit the shelves earlier this month.

The book, titled “Daha Adil Bir Dünya Mümkün” (A Fairer World Is Possible), was published by Turkuvaz Kitap, a subsidiary of Turkuvaz Media Holding, which has close ties to Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The publisher of Emine Erdoğan’s first book is also Turkuvaz Kitap.

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