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Opposition MP sues far-right leader who targeted him for calling Turkey ‘murderer’

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An opposition lawmaker has filed a lawsuit against the leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who attacked him over his remarks calling Turkey a “murderer” state.

Prosecutors launched two separate investigations into Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) and a former journalist Ahmet Şık on Monday due to his description of Turkey as a “murderer” state.

Angered by Şık’s remarks, Devlet Bahçeli targeted the lawmaker at a party meeting on Tuesday, saying if the Republic of Turkey had been a murderer, the place where Şık would be today would not be the Turkish Parliament but a cemetery. Bahçeli said the place where Şık deserves to be is behind bars, calling for his arrest.

In his petition submitted to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Şık accused Bahçeli of manipulating his remarks, attacking his personal rights and targeting him.

Şık recalled that similar statements by Bahçeli targeting other people had led to physical attacks on these people and thus his remarks cannot be considered within the limits of freedom of expression.

Şık said Bahçeli put his life at risk with his statements.

Following the general elections of 2018, Bahçeli released a list of the names of journalists, writers and polling company owners whom he accused of slandering and defaming his party. Some of these people such as journalists Selahattin Önkibar, Yavuz Selim Demirağ, Ahmet Takan, Murat İde and polling company owner Hakan Bayrakçı were later attacked by unknown assailants who were suspected to have links to the MHP leader.

A statement from the prosecutor’s office said on Monday that Şık’s remarks in which he said, “This state is a murderer… We need to destroy this state… Yes, the state of Turkey is a murderer state. And let me say this openly, if the AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party] and this government bloc are patriots and I am a terrorist, I’d prefer to be called a ‘terrorist’ to being a patriot like them,” prompted the investigations.

Şık was elected to parliament from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in 2018. He parted ways with the party in May 2020 and served as an independent deputy until April 2021, when he joined the TİP.

An outspoken critic of the AKP, Şık was held in pre-trial detention for 14 months. He was arrested in December 2016 as part of an investigation targeting journalists and executives from the Cumhuriyet daily on terrorism charges, which sparked widespread outrage over press freedom.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in November 2020 that Turkey violated Şık’s right to liberty and security as well as his right to freedom of expression and ordered Turkey to pay him compensation.

In March 2011, under AKP rule, Şık was arrested on charges of membership in the Ergenekon terrorist organization along with journalist Nedim Şener. They were both released in March 2012.

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