Turkish opposition politician to face charges for assaulting president

An indictment against Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairwoman Gökçe Gökçen has called for time in prison for the opposition politician, for assaulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Friday.

Gökçen was the co-author of a brochure on the Gülen movement, which Turkey holds responsible for a failed coup attempt in July 2016 and has targeted in a widespread purge since. The brochure titled The Political Arm of FETÖ in 21 Questions, using the name Turkey uses to refer to followers of Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, accused Erdoğan himself of having “handed the state over to FETÖ.”

In response to ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials saying they were unaware of AKP’s former ally Gülen’s illegal activities, CHP said in the brochure that Turkey’s intelligence services had been preparing reports on Gülen, which the AKP had access to, since at least 1991.

The brochure also detailed how and when Gülen’s followers were appointed to key state institutions with support from the AKP. It was banned and taken off the shelves by a court order in October 2020.

The indictment against Gökçen, who is one of two authors of the brochure who doesn’t have parliamentary immunity according to BirGün, said views expressed in the brochure constituted slander and could be considered a physical attack on the president.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, as its terrorism units conducted the investigation, didn’t ask Gökçen to give a statement on the matter.

Physically assaulting the president comes with a minimum five year prison sentence.

The indictment is “tragicomical,” said Gökçen. “Those who once said they gave (Gülen) everything he wanted now want me to serve in prison in three separate court cases for seven separate charges.”

“They seriously think a 29-year-old politician has physically assaulted the president, and they are suing me for it. One can only laugh,” Gökçen said in a video message.