Opposition MP to face investigation for insulting Turkey’s communications director  

The chief public prosecutor in the Turkish capital Ankara has launched an investigation against Özgür Özel, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), upon a complaint by Turkey’s Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun.

Altun’s complaint accused Özel of slander and insult over the opposition lawmaker’s pursuit of Altun renting a plot of land that belongs to Turkey’s Foundations Directorate for significantly lower than market price, around $ 40.

Özel had released a written statement last month, saying that Altun had built a wall and auxiliary buildings on the plot in question, which has protected status as it overlooks the Bosporus.

Özel and CHP lawmaker Engin Özkoç had “twisted a rental process that complies with the law,” with a “political and revanchist goal to offend [Altun’s] dignity, honour and prestige,” Altun’s complaint read, as cited by Turkish news site T24.

If the investigation goes through, the lawmakers will face charges of insulting a public officer and slander over comments they made on their social media accounts and the news reports that covered them, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

An Istanbul court had previously banned access to 273 articles on the matter, reasoning that the reports aimed to “disrupt or obscure our country’s success in the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic despite many European countries’ failure”, and “discredit the success of our nation and our state in the fight by diverting attention elsewhere via a regular event.”