Erdoğan files lawsuit against Kılıçdaroğlu after CHP Istanbul chair conviction remarks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a lawsuit against main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on charges of “insulting the president,” Takvim newspaper reported on Friday.

The libel suit follows a speech delivered by Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Thursday, in which he blasted the Turkish leader following a ruling by country’s top court upholding a jail sentence leading a top CHP official.

The CHP leader on Thursday addressed hundreds of people gathered in front of the party’s Istanbul headquarters upon his call to protest a jail sentence handed down to CHP Istanbul chairwoman Canan Kaftancıoğlu on charges of insulting the president and the Turkish state over social media posts dating back to eight years ago.

“You are a hypocrite. You are an opportunist. You are a manipulator. But your oppression and insolence are coming to an end," T24 news site cited the CHP leader as saying.

Erdoğan is seeking 500,000 liras ($32,300) in damages from Kılıçdaroğlu over the alleged insult, Takvim said.

Opponents of Erdoğan see the ruling against CHP’s Istanbul chair as a crackdown on the opposition ahead of next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

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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