Danish ambassador denies Erdoğan trial remarks

Denmark’s Ambassador to Turkey, Svend Olling, has published a statement on social media denying that he made remarks on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being put on trial.

Olling’s statement was made after pro-government media sources including a columnist for Sabah newspaper accused him of asking the main opposition party’s presidential candidate, Muharrem İnce, whether he planned to put Erdoğan on trial if he won the election.

The question was reportedly put to the Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate at an iftar meal attended by ambassadors from European Union member states.

“I did not ask such a question or anything remotely resembling it nor did anyone else at the meeting,” tweeted Olling on Monday after speculation mounted that the Danish ambassador had asked İnce the question.

It was İnce’s remarks during a filmed interview with CNN Türk that sparked the incident. While talking about his iftar meal with the EU ambassadors, the CHP candidate said he had been asked whether he would try Erdoğan, and had replied that he had no intention to do so.

İnce later tweeted that the ambassadors had not asked him that question, and that he had never claimed they had, though this statement seemed to contradict his own remarks during the CNN interview.

The contradiction was picked up by social media users and journalists close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Fahrettin Altun, the Istanbul coordinator of SETA, a policy think tank with close ties to the AKP, placed Olling as the source of the question in an article on the subject penned for Sabah newspaper.

While Altun’s claim was based only on an unnamed source, Olling took the allegations seriously enough to tweet in English and Turkish denying them on Monday afternoon.