The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) “will not stay silent against plots,” its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said, responding to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s claims that he has been involved in “espionage.”
“Erdoğan himself is managing the recent plot against the CHP,” Kılıçdaroğlu told a group of journalists on Aug. 16.
Responding to a question of whether the government “is trying to dismantle the CHP,” Kılıçdaroğlu said “it seems so.”
“But we will continue to believe in the superiority of the law. There are honorable judges and prosecutors in this country,” he added.
A bitter ongoing row between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the CHP heated up further after Erdoğan suggested on Aug. 13 that Kılıçdaroğlu was involved in the case in which CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu was jailed back in July. He then hinted that Berberoğlu was willing to accuse the CHP leader from prison in the case.
In response, Kılıçdaroğlu argued that Erdoğan’s comments were a “confession” that he “uses the judiciary as a political tool to shape society and the public.”
“Erdoğan has instructed the prosecutor directly. The prosecutor asks Erdoğan if he has additional demands. He tries to design the opposition according to the information that he receives and brings forward accusations,” the CHP leader said.
Berberoğlu was sentenced to prison for 25 years for “knowingly helping a terror organization” by providing “state secrets” to the media. The gendarmerie forces had stopped a weapons-laden National Intelligence Organization (MİT) truck near the Syrian border. The trucks were apparently heading to rebel groups fighting in Syria and the video footage was fiercely debated in Turkey at the time.
Kılıçdaroğlu said that Berberoğlu was imprisoned for “a crime that does not exist.”
“The Constitutional Court has ruled clearly that the case about the MİT trucks is not a state secret. After all, something that everybody knows cannot be a secret,” he added.
Likening the current situation to the trumped up Balyoz and Ergenekon cases that alleged large military plots against the AKP in the 2000s, Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that the government “is trying to silence CHP.”
“The army has been silent. It has not defended its rights. But we will not stay silent. The devil is the one who stays silent against injustice,” he said.
“They have a habit of staging plots. We will fight against the torment of the oppressor,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s involvement in espionage case
Regarding allegations that the documents about the MİT trucks were given to Berberoğlu with his instructions, Kılıçdaroğlu questioned why the government has not shown any incriminating evidence if it is true.
Accused of receiving the video footage of the MİT trucks from Gülenist journalist Ekrem Dumanlı, the former editor-in-chief of daily Zaman, Kılıçdaroğlu said “it was normal for me to speak with [Dumanlı]. We visited the media during the elections and we visited [Zaman].”
2019 presidential elections
As the executive presidential system stipulated by the constitutional amendment will go into effect with 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections, Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated the CHP’s firm opposition to the system change.
“Any candidate has to believe in the separation of powers, be impartial, and defend a liberal democratic parliamentary system,” he said.
“As a party, we will take these principles as our starting point,” he added.
Suggesting that public support of Erdoğan and AKP has been declining, Kılıçdaroğlu warned that “Erdoğan will use every unlawful path available on the way to 2019. He will want whoever he deems an obstacle to be dismissed,” Kılıçdaroğlu stated.