Opposition party leader under investigation for insulting Erdoğan

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Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into the leader of the People’s Liberation Party (HKP), a left-wing populist and anti-imperialist political party, on allegations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Friday.

HKP leader Nurullah Ankut on Friday testified to a prosecutor as part of an investigation launched by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on allegations that he insulted Erdoğan in an article, after it was reported by the İstanbul Police Department, Cumhuriyet said.

The accusation was based on a piece by Ankut titled “The one who did the most harm to the Ummah [Muslims] in the 1,500 years of Islamic history…” and released on the HKP website in May.

“I addressed my statements in the article to [the ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP Chairman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan isn’t a legitimate president because he doesn’t have a diploma,” Cumhuriyet quoted Ankut as saying in his testimony, and arguing that the investigation into him shouldn’t be evaluated within the scope of the offense of “insulting the president.”

“Due to the fact that his diploma is forged, he [Erdoğan] will one day be prosecuted both for forgery of official documents and aggravated fraud,” he added.

The HKP chairperson also made a statement in front of İstanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse, describing the ruling AKP as “an illegal organization involved in numerous crimes.”

“He [Erdoğan] thinks he can frighten, intimidate us by using the judiciary under his control as a weapon. … In fact, he has no legitimacy, he has no diploma, he will definitely come here and face trial for lacking a diploma,” Ankut said.

The İstanbul-based Marmara University, from where Erdoğan allegedly graduated, last month rejected an application submitted by the HKP, which demanded that detailed information on the president’s university degree be shared with the public within the scope of Law No. 4982 on the Right to Information.

The claim that Erdoğan does not have a degree has long been discussed in Turkey. Marmara University had released a copy of Erdoğan’s diploma; however, the diploma caused more doubt. It named the “School of Business Administration” as the department Erdoğan graduated from; however, Erdoğan previously wrote in his CV that he graduated from the faculty of economics and commercial sciences.

Marmara University’s diploma query system was shut down by court order on July 18, 2014, the year Erdoğan was first elected president. Despite challenges for Erdoğan to introduce his college classmates, none have materialized, while Erdoğan often refers to his high-school classmates.

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