Governor files legal complaint against opposition’s Istanbul candidate over airport VIP use

The governor’s office of the Turkey’s Black Sea coastal town of Ordu filed a legal complaint against the opposition’s Istanbul mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu over what it said took place when the politician attempted to use VIP lounge at airport on Wednesday, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Saturday.

İmamoğlu declared victory on March 31 polls in Istanbul, taking control of Turkey’s financial powerhouse after 25 years of rule by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its predecessors. His term as mayor lasted only 18 days, as the Supreme Election Council annulled the vote over the AKP’s appeal citing irregularities in the vote.

The politician on Wednesday visited his hometown, Trabzon, on the Black Sea coast for the Eid al-Fitr holiday. He also used the visit as an opportunity to extend his election campaign for the Istanbul rerun on June 23 to Turkey’s Black Sea coast. 

İmamoğlu spoke to huge crowds at rallies in three coastal provinces, Trabzon, Giresun, and Ordu, each known as AKP strongholds. He then headed to the Ordu-Giresun airport to return to Istanbul, but was prevented from using the VIP lounge. 

“The governor gave orders to the VIP lounge. If so, we enter from the other door. The governor did not act like a statesman,” opposition daily Evrensel quoted İmamoğlu as saying.

İmamoğlu also said that the governor of Ordu had earlier told him to end his rally in the province and warned that the authorities would intervene if he did not.

Turkey’s pro-government dailies said on Friday that İmamoğlu had called the governor a dog, while he and other officials of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) had been arguing with security personnel at the airport. 

The governor’s office said in a written statement that a legal complaint had been filed both against İmamoğlu and the CHP’s deputy head Seyit Torun. 

“A legal complaint has been made to the Ordu Chief Prosecutor’s Office, and a legal process has been launched with the provision of all information, documents, and visual material as evidence against those people who insulted, threatened, and defamed our state and the institutions that represent the state before our governor and our security forces,” the governor’s office said.