CHP threatens Turkey-wide protests if MP not released

The vice president of Turkey’s main opposition said the party would mount nationwide protests if its member of parliament Enis Berberoğlu were not released by the courts.

Gürsel Tekin said the Republican People’s Party (CHP) expected the Supreme Court or Constitutional Court to release 62-year-old Berberoğlu, who began a 25-year jail term last year on charges of espionage for leaking information about Turkish arms shipments to Syrian rebels to an opposition newspaper.

Berberoğlu was re-elected in elections on June 24, and Tekin said the re-election had renewed his parliamentary immunity, so the parliament would have to vote to remove it again if Berberoğlu’s imprisonment was to be continued.

“Our colleague is being held as a practical hostage. Those who released German and French journalists and who bargain over an American priest have politicised the law,” Tekin told Deutsche Welle.

“If we do not get the outcome we want from the Supreme Court or Constitutional Court, we will use all types of democratic rights to protest.”

Work was being carried out to prepare nationwide protests should Berberoğlu’s detention be extended, Tekin said.

The position the party has taken over one of its own appears to conflict with party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu recent advice to the United States not to act over detained American pastor Andrew Brunson.