Erdoğan sues opposition politician over Kavala conviction remarks

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sued a politician from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for TL 250,000 ($16,849) in damages over the politician’s remarks about the recent conviction of a prominent businessman, Turkish media outlets reported.

The development was announced by Erdoğan’s lawyer, Hüseyin Aydın, in a written statement on Friday.

Erdoğan sued CHP deputy group chairman Özgür Özel due to his statements about the president after an İstanbul court on Monday sentenced businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who had been behind bars without a conviction for over four years, to aggravated life on charges of “attempting to topple the government,” while sentencing seven other defendants to 18 years each on charges of aiding the attempt.

Özel, who spoke to reporters in front of the İstanbul courthouse along with several other opposition politicians, slammed the court’s ruling on Kavala and the other defendants in the trial, accusing Erdoğan of being behind the court’s decision.

“Gezi is free, Kavala is free. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will give an accounting of his actions before history, I swear,” said Özel.

Gezi refers to mass protests in 2013 that erupted over government plans to demolish Gezi Park in the Taksim neighborhood of İstanbul. Th protests quickly turned into mass anti-government demonstrations that were violently suppressed by the government, leading to the death of 11 protestors due to the use of disproportionate force by the police.

Kavala and the other defendants are accused of instigating the protests and financially supporting them.

Erdoğan targeted Özel before his departure to Saudi Arabia for an official visit on Thursday, saying his lawyers will sue him and he will see whether the president of Turkey can be insulted or not.

Erdoğan referred to Özel “as the person whose name is Özgür [which means free in Turkish] but has a weird surname” (Özel means special in Turkish).

Özel said in a statement to the pro-opposition Halk TV on Friday that Erdoğan’s remarks about his surname show how desperate he is to find grounds to attack an opposition politician.

Erdoğan often sues opposition politicians and critics due to their criticism of his policies or government.

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