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Former CHP leader wins defamation lawsuit against Erdoğan

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Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has prevailed in a defamation lawsuit that accused President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of defamation due to his remarks linking Kılıçdaroğlu to terrorism and corruption, his lawyer has announced.

Celal Çelik announced on X on Tuesday that his client was victorious in the lawsuit he filed against Erdoğan in 2022 due to the president’s remarks targeting Kılıçdaroğlu at a party meeting the same year.

Erdoğan has been ordered to pay Kılıçdaroğlu 5 kuruş, the smallest Turkish currency, in non-pecuniary damages, a symbolic amount demanded by Kılıçdaroğlu.

In June 2022 Erdoğan attacked Kılıçdaroğlu in defamatory language at a party meeting in parliament and accused him of defending terrorists and terrorist organizations, specifically the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, while the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016, is labelled as a terrorist organization only by Turkey and a few other countries. The movement denies any involvement in the failed coup or terrorist activity.

Erdoğan also accused Kılıçdaroğlu of standing up for “terrorist” Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş and businessman Osman Kavala, who have been behind bars on politically motivated charges for years and not released despite rulings from the European Court of Human Rights.

“Dishonest, undignified, miserable and shameless,” were some of the words Erdoğan used against Kılıçdaroğlu.

He also claimed that then-CHP leader was preventing investigations into claims of corruption in CHP-run municipalities, referring to him as the “biggest thief.”

“The people stealing the nation’s money are thieves. The person who stands up for them is the biggest thief of all,” Erdoğan said, referring to Kılıçdaroğlu.

Erdoğan was attacking Kılıçdaroğlu, a possible rival, in the run-up to a presidential election in May 2023.

Kılıçdaroğlu ran against Erdoğan in the May election as the opposition’s joint candidate and was defeated in a runoff election.

He was eventually voted out of CHP leadership at a party congress in November, a position he had occupied since 2010.

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