Prosecutor probes opposition leader for insulting Erdoğan

A Turkish prosecutor began an investigation into the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Hürriyet newspaper said.

Earlier on Thursday, Erdoğan filed a criminal complaint against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for his remarks, which accused him of covering up a corruption scandal in 2013, the newspaper said.

The CHP has stepped up its criticism of Erdoğan in the past month – it has also accused his relatives of stashing money in offshore bank accounts. In response, Erdoğan said the CHP is siding with the movement of Fethullah Gülen, who he blames for accusing his government of corruption and seeking to overthrow his government in an attempted military coup last year.

On Tuesday, Kılıçdaroğlu said Erdoğan covered up the corruption scandal of December 2013, which allegedly exposed the role of Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab and ministers, politicians and their relatives in an Iran sanctions-busting scheme. Police and prosecutors carrying out investigations and arrests were accused of being members of the Gülen movement and were either imprisoned, fired or fled the country.

Evidence obtained by police in the investigation has also been used by U.S. prosecutors in an ongoing trial in New York of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a senior executive of state-run Halkbank. Zarrab, appearing as state’s witness against Atilla, has corroborated much of the evidence. Zarrab's assets in Turkey were seized by Istanbul prosecutors last week and his employees were detained by police.

Kılıçdaroğlu also said that in April 2013 the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) provided Erdoğan with details of Zarrab’s criminal activities and his alleged relations with politicians.