Erdoğan targets leading main opposition MP in latest 'insult' lawsuit

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday announced that his lawyers are preparing to file a lawsuit against prominent main opposition lawmaker Özgür Özel on charges of “insulting” the Turkish leader.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Group Deputy chairman Özgür Özel has “failed to learn a lesson on insulting the Turkish president,” BirGün newspaper cited Erdoğan as saying in a statement to the press at an Ankara airport before leaving for Saudi Arabia.

"Our lawyers are filing their lawsuit,” the Turkish president said.

Earlier this week, Özel reacted to the life sentence handed down to Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala as part of the Gezi trial.

"Kavala is free. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be convicted before history and held accountable,’’ Duvar news site cited the CHP Group Deputy chairman as saying on Monday.

The sentencing of Kavala by a Turkish court on Monday to life in prison on charges of attempting to overthrow the government is seen as part of a crackdown on critics of Erdoğan.

Erdoğan frequently targets opposition lawmakers with lawsuits.

According to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), insulting the president is a crime and carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Investigations and convictions under Article 299 have catapulted since Erdoğan became president in 2014. Lawsuits over the crime of insulting the president have increased by 9,000 percent since 2010, according to a 2021 report based on Justice Ministry data.

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