Main opposition candidate files lawsuit against Turkish president


Turkey’s main opposition presidential candidate filed a lawsuit on Monday against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demanding damages for defamation for suggesting the challenger in the June 24 election took orders from the secretive religious group the government says carried out the 2016 coup attempt.

Opinion polls put Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem İnce in second place in the presidential race behind Erdoğan. Four other candidates are also standing, hoping to stop Erdoğan winning an outright majority on June 24 and force him into a second-round run-off two weeks later. The presidential elections will usher in a new executive presidential system over the existing parliamentary system of democracy.

İnce is demanding $22,000 in damages from Erdoğan, the Patronlar Dünyası business website said, for a speech the president made in which he appeared to suggest the CHP candidate was a follower of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamist preacher and a former ally of Erdoğan’s government who lives in Pennsylvania, in the United States.

‘’Mr. Muharrem, are you ready to quit if you don’t win these elections? Let’s wait and see. But you won’t quit. You all receive your authorisation from the same place, Pennsylvania,’’ Erdoğan said.

İnce has not taken legal action over previous similar statements.

‘’The statements used this time around contain slander and heavy insults,” İnce’s lawyer Mustafa Kemal Çiçek said.