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Erdoğan wins non-pecuniary damages from Kılıçdaroğlu for defamation

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during his party's group meeting at the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) in Ankara on October 19, 2022. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has won non-pecuniary damages from leader of the main opposition party and presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in a lawsuit he filed last year for defamation, a lawyer for Erdoğan has announced.

Erdoğan’s lawyer, Hüseyin Aydın, announced on Twitter on Wednesday that his client has won TL 105,000 ($5,400) in non-pecuniary damages from Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kılıçdaroğlu.

Kılıçdaroğlu will be compelled to pay the damages due to remarks claiming that Erdoğan and his close associates were planning to flee the country to avoid prosecution when the government changes.

He claimed in May 2022 that Erdoğan and people in his close circle, including his family members, are planning to flee Turkey and that 1 billion lira ($51.6 million) had been transferred to the United States through the pro-government Service for Youth and Education Foundation of Turkey (TÜRGEV) and the Ensar Foundation to help to obtain residence and work permits in the US.

The lawsuit filed by Erdoğan lawyer Aydın against Kılıçdaroğlu at the Ankara Civil Court of First Instance claims that the opposition leader’s allegations were “totally unrealistic” and constituted “a serious attack” on the president’s personal rights.

Erdoğan frequently sues opposition politicians for defamation. The courts generally rule in his favor since judicial independence was significantly weakened in Turkey following a failed coup in 2016, when thousands of judges and prosecutors were purged from their posts under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

Erdoğan is accused by critics of filling the judicial posts with his cronies and destroying the separation of powers in the country to establish his one-man rule.

His main contender in the presidential election scheduled for May 14 will be Kılıçdaroğlu, the joint candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties.

Many say Erdoğan is facing the most challenging election of his political career amid Turkey’s financial woes and his government’s poor handling of two powerful earthquakes that caused great devastation in the country’s south in February and claimed more than 50,000 lives.

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