Istanbul opposition leader faces jail time for social media posts

An Istanbul court on Monday accepted an indictment charging the chair of the main opposition party’s Istanbul branch with insulting the president and spreading terrorist propaganda, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Last week, Turkish prosecutors prepared the indictment against Republican People’s Party (CHP) official Canan Kaftancıoğlu for insulting the Turkish government, the president and public servants, inciting “hatred and enmity”, and “distributing propaganda for a terrorist organisation”, mostly on the basis of tweets she posted between 2012 and 2017, said Anadolu.

The first hearing is set for June 28, and prosecutors seek a prison sentence of up to 17 years, Anadolu said. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is among the eight litigants who brought the case against Kaftancıoğlu.

Kaftancıoğlu said she had posted all but one of the tweets mentioned in the indictment, but denied the accusations. The CHP official said her tweets were within the legal bounds of freedom of expression and criticism.

Kaftancıoğlu was a prominent figure during the campaign for the March 31 local elections in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, where CHP candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu won the mayoral seat by a narrow margin over his ruling party rival.

But Erdoğan's ruling party appealed the results, citing irregularities and fraud at the ballots. The Supreme Election Council, top election authority in the country, revoked İmamoğlu's mandate and called a new election for June 23.