Ankara municipality files criminal complaint against ex-mayor for financing Gülenists

The opposition municipality of Turkey’s capital Ankara has filed a criminal complaint against the city’s former ruling party mayor on charges of aiding and financing a religious group accused of orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt, T24 reported on Wednesday.

Former Ankara mayor Melih Gökçek is one of seven people the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) municipality claims have abused their authority, aided a criminal enterprise and financed the Gülen movement, the Turkish media website said. 

Gökçek served as the AKP mayor of Ankara from 1994 to 2017.

The criminal complaint includes claims of multiple public zoning changes to benefit the Gülen movement by providing unfair gains to high-level members of the group, T24 said.

The lawsuit arrives amid an escalating row between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the CHP over the political wing of the Gülen movement. The leaders of both parties have filed lawsuits against each other over alleged links to the movement. 

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, a former AKP ally, of masterminding the coup attempt of July 15, 2016, which killed 250 people and injured over 1,000, as part of a long-running scheme to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by infiltrating Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

Relations between the AKP and the Gülen movement started to deteriorate in 2012, when Gülenists targeted Erdoğan’s entourage and attempted to jail some of his close allies.

Over 100,000 alleged Gülen devotees have been imprisoned or dismissed from their jobs under a two-year state of emergency declared shortly after the failed putsch.