Top opposition politician rejects latest charge of insulting Erdoğan

The Istanbul chairwoman of Turkey's main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Monday denied new charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Canan Kaftancıoğlu said using the term “dictator” in describing Erdoğan was legitimate criticism, citing the Turkish president’s wide-ranging powers, in her statement to an Istanbul prosecutor, according to Anadolu.

Turkey’s top appeals court in June upheld a five-year jail sentence against Canan Kaftancıoğlu, an outspoken critic of Erdoğan, on charges including insulting the leader. The ruling bans the CHP official from running as a candidate in the elections slated for 2023.

The 50-year-old was not required to serve the full sentence under Turkish law and served a few hours in jail in May before being released. But prosecutors opened a the latest investigation against the CHP Istanbul chairwoman earlier month over a speech in which she used the term dictator to describe Erdoğan.

Kaftancıoğlu on Monday said it was it was her duty to follow the “political events in the country” and “react in a way that would rectify observed negative developments,” noting that his was part of her “public duty as a politician.”

The term dictator is a “criticism directed at the president single-handedly having executive powers in the name of government; legislative powers as leader of the political party with a majority in parliament and judicial powers...” Kaftancıoğlu told the prosecutor.

Kaftancıoğlu has become targeted in numerous lawsuits upon emerging as a standout opposition figure in Turkey after the CHP won the mayoral seat for Istanbul in local elections in 2019, defeating the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP). The AKP and its preceding Islamist party had governed the city for 27 years.

The CHP Istanbul head in May was sentenced to 4 years and 11 months in prison on charges on "insulting a civil servant,” "insulting the president," and “insulting the Turkish state,” over her social media posts from eight years ago, T24 news site reported.

The leading Turkish opposition figure was dismissed from the CHP and thus banned from politics over the May convictions, but the CHP has dismissed the court’s ruling and kept the controversial official as the party’s Istanbul chairwoman.

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