Erdogan in criminal complaint against opposition for 'insult'


Istanbul (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lodged a criminal complaint against the main opposition for insulting him at a party meeting criticising a relentless crackdown.

Erdogan's lawyer Huseyin Aydin placed the complaint on Tuesday against all MPs of the Republican People's Party (CHP), including leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, with Ankara prosecutors, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Prosecutors will now decide whether to open an investigation.

The petition has been launched over a meeting of party MPs led by Kilicdaroglu on Monday denouncing the crackdown under the state of emergency imposed in the wake of the July 15 failed coup.

It came after 10 MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the third largest party in parliament, were arrested on charges of terror links.

Nine staff from the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper were also remanded in custody at the weekend.

The CHP had shown solidarity with Erdogan in the wake of the failed coup, with Kilicdaroglu even meeting him at his controversial palace and attending a mass rally in Istanbul addressed by the president.

Erdogan had previously lodged several criminal complaints against Kilicdaroglu -- including for calling him a "tinpot dictator" -- but had dropped them as a gesture of thanks for the support after the coup.

The new criminal complaint suggests that any remaining unity between the two men has now finally crumbled.

At the meeting on Monday, the CHP's party council said the government only had itself to blame for the coup and was now attacking the founding values of modern Turkey.

"Turkey is now going through a dark and authoritarian coup staged by the presidential palace," the CHP said.

"The current political situation poses a serious threat against the freedom of our people and future of our country."

Thousands of ordinary citizens, journalists and even a former Miss Turkey were prosecuted on the charges of insulting Erdogan in the last years but most of the cases were dropped after the coup.

The co-leader of HDP Selahattin Demirtas, who was one of the MPs arrested, said in his latest message from jail on Tuesday that he was "taken hostage... in a civilian coup d'etat".

"This is a new step taken by those who have, step by step, implemented various plots to consolidate a one-man rule," he said in a statement released by the HDP.