Ruling AKP, main opposition CHP row over espionage case grows
ANKARAMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) group deputy leader Özgür Özel has lashed out at President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, asking him to reveal the sources of his claims that imprisoned CHP MP Enis Berberoğlu was willing to blame party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for an espionage case in which he is being tried.
“Did he go to prison or did he send a spy to prison? While he is accusing everybody of being a spy, what is he trying to do without authority?” Özel said on Aug. 14.
His comments came after Erdoğan implied that the ongoing probe, which ruled for Berberoğlu’s imprisonment, into the espionage and leaking of secret state documents to media outlets could also be linked to Kılıçdaroğlu.
“The leader of the main opposition is obviously trying to muddy the waters over concerns that charges that led to the imprisonment of one of his lawmakers may be linked to him as well,” Erdoğan said on Aug. 13.
“I am hearing interesting news emerging from prison. ‘I will speak if I am not freed,’ the imprisoned person says,” Erdoğan had said, referring to Berberoğlu.
“The comments that Berberoğlu allegedly told Kılıçdaroğlu were not told to the deputy leader. I am the group deputy leader, his deputy; and he did not tell me. He spoke to Kılıçdaroğlu but did not tell him that. But somehow, the comments that he did not tell us, is heard by the president,” Özel said.
An Istanbul court on June 14 sentenced Berberoğlu to 25 years in jail, ruling that the MP had “knowingly helped a terror organization” by providing “state secrets” to the media about gendarmerie forces stopping a weapon-laden truck of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) that was allegedly heading to groups fighting in Syria near the border on Jan. 19, 2014.
“The leader of the AKP should be asked ‘What treason, what espionage, what crime?’ If there is a crime, it is done by you [Erdoğan] for sending weapons to jihadist organizations,” Özel added.
Berberoğlu also denied Erdoğan’s claims in a letter he sent with his lawyers on Aug. 14.
“I have only spoken to CHP lawmakers and my lawyers. The contents of the conversations with visitors can be asked to them. But I remember that during all those visits I only spoke about my judicial status and said I have never given up hope of justice,” he said.
“Justice may be prevented, my acquittal may be postponed, and the torment I have faced may be prolonged, but in no circumstances, can I be a criminal, defamer or confessor because there is no crime,” he added.
Özel criticizes AKP
Özel also criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the wake of the party’s celebration of its 16th anniversary, which called for the necessity of “re-organization” within the party.
“It was formed 16 years ago with a motto. From a movement of virtuous people, they have transformed into a movement of defamers and plotters. The situation is far more than a ‘metal fatigue.’ They are all, including the president, in a burnout syndrome,” Özel said, referring to previous comments by Erdoğan that some AKP members had been suffering “metal fatigue.”