A nationalist opposition leader has filed an individual application with Turkey’s Constitutional Court claiming rights violations in an investigation into her over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the T24 news website reported on Tuesday.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
The investigation into nationalist İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener was launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office based on secret witness testimony in 2016. A confidentiality order was imposed on the investigation in 2019.
Prosecutors decided to drop the investigation last month.
Akşener filed an individual application with the Constitutional court and requested TL 5 million ($183,520) in damages for the rights violations she claims she was subjected to during the seven-year-long probe.
Akşener’s lawyer and İYİ Party MP Uğur Poyraz said the İYİ Party leader has been subjected to violations of rights guaranteed in the Constitution during the years-long investigation. He said his client has been defamed and was deprived of the right to know the nature and the cause of the accusations against her during the lengthy investigation.
Poyraz further stated that during the seven-year period, the investigation was used as a political weapon against Akşener and the İYİ Party in all elections by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies.
The lawmaker emphasized that if Akşener is granted the requested TL 5 million in damages, the entire amount will be allocated to the families of martyrs.
Being a Gülen follower has been used by the Turkish government as a pretext to punish critics and non-loyalists.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 130,000 people were removed from state jobs while thousands of others were investigated on allegations of terrorism and jailed.
Akşener, a former ally of far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, parted ways with Bahçeli and established the İYİ Party in October 2017 as an alternative for nationalists and center-right Turkish voters.
She set up an election alliance with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) before the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2018 that continued to this year’s elections.
The İYİ Party was a part of the six-party opposition alliance that also included the CHP and supported the candidacy of CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu against incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Erdoğan defeated Kılıçdaroğlu in a runoff election on May 28.