CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu: Erdoğan’s actions discredit Turkey
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has accused President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of “discrediting the Republic of Turkey” by pressuring the judiciary in pursuit of political aims.
“He is discrediting the chair he is sitting on. That chair belongs to the Republic of Turkey. If you discredit that chair, the Republic of Turkey also loses its dignity,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Feb. 20, addressing his CHP parliamentary group.
The CHP head accused the president of the instrumentalizing the justice system for political purposes, causing the judiciary to give arbitrary decisions and cause further victimization.
Kılıçdaroğlu reserved much of his speech to the case against German-Turkish Die Welt journalist Deniz Yücel, who was released on Feb. 18 after a year in pre-trial detention without any indictment, as well recent cases concerning journalists and human rights defenders.
“On the 366th day of [Yücel’s] imprisonment a three-page indictment was prepared and he was released without even appearing at court. He then returned to Germany on the same day with a private jet,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“Why were you keeping a journalist in jail without an indictment?” he added, referring to Erdoğan’s statement after Yücel’s arrest in April 2017, in which he said “[Yücel] will not be released as long as I am sitting on this chair.”
“Erdoğan said that ‘this man [Yücel] is a spy, a terrorist.’ Without an indictment, you called a journalist a terrorist and a spy. If he was a terrorist and spy then why did you release him?” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
He also recalled a case against human rights defenders arrested on terror charges in April 2017 on the island of Büyükada, off Istanbul.
“Eight of them were arrested, including a citizen of Germany and a citizen of Sweden. They were also accused of being spies and terrorists. So why were they released? German and Swedish citizens were allowed to go abroad but Turkish citizens were banned from going abroad [by the court],” Kılıçdaroğlu added.
“What is the source of this hypocrisy? When you receive a call from some places, you give up and you give permission to go abroad. You release them in a hurry,” he said.
“Whoever calls is able to save their man. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin calls, he saves his men. [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel calls, she saves her men. [French President Emmanuel] Macron calls, he saves his men,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“And you say that the judiciary is independent. What judicial independence? I have long said the judiciary receives instructions from the palace. This is all the evidence: With one phone call, people are free. With one call, people are arrested,” he said.
“They have turned Turkey into a whipping boy of international powers,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.
The CHP leader also blasted aggravated life sentences recently given to prominent journalists Mehmet Altan, Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak and three others, again saying the verdict was made “under political influence.”
“It was not a decision given by a court, it was a decision given under the palace’s instructions,” he said.