Istanbul mayor slams Erdoğan’s accusations over Gülen links

Ekrem İmamoğlu, the opposition mayor of Istanbul, lashed out at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday after Erdoğan showed a video to his parliamentary party on links between the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and a religious movement, which the Turkish government blames for a failed coup attempt in 2016, Sözcü daily reported.

Erdoğan and the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu have entered a war of words since last month over the political wing of Gülen movement, which had been the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) ally until the December 2013 corruption cases, in which Gülen-linked prosecutors launched investigations into Turkey's top ministers. 

Kılıçdaroğlu on Tuesday accused Erdoğan and the AKP of allowing the Gülen movement to infiltrate vital state institutions including the security forces, judiciary and military. The politician said Erdoğan was the main figure in the political wing of the Gulen movement as he had handed over state institutions to the Gülen network.

Erdoğan on Wednesday responded to Kılıçdaroğlu by accusing the CHP of serving as the political wing of the Gülen movement. The president showed a video during a speech to his parliamentary party to prove the links between the religious group and the main opposition party.

A former advisor of İmamoğlu who worked with him when İmamoğlu was the mayor of Istanbul’s Beylikdüzü district was among the names mentioned in the video as evidence of the CHP’s links to Gülen movement.

İmamoğlu said Erkan Karaaslan had started serving in the Beylikdüzü municipality before his term, when the district was controlled by the AKP. He said that Karaaslan had also worked for several state institutions, including the Turkish intelligence.

The mayor said before local elections in March last year, one AKP senior official had invited Kararaslan for a meeting and had asked him to help throw dirt on İmamoğlu over Gülen links. 

“Does the President who used those false expressions today have information about that plot,” İmamoğlu asked.