Erdogan Rival Handed Nearly 3-Years In Prison For "Insulting" Election Authority

To the surprise of no one... given the now years-long crackdown on all media including internet and social apps by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party, a main political rival of Erdogan has just been issued a stiff prison sentence by a Turkish court for mere political speech.

On Wednesday Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu was sentenced to 2 years 7 months and 15 days in prison by a Turkish court for "insulting the election authority," according to national media.

Erdogan Rival Handed Nearly 3-Years In Prison For "Insulting" Election Authority
Erdogan rival Ekrem Imamoglu, via Reuters.

Specifically Imamoglu was accused of unlawful speech directed against Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council, which the mayor has denied, instead saying it's part of a political purge backed by Erdogan loyalists.

"They have stopped fighting honestly and bravely. They are resorting to all kinds of tricks to protect their order," he told protesters who gathered in the capital in support of his innocence. "This decision is proof that the rulers of this country have no aim to bring justice and democracy to the country," he also said.

According to the government allegation cited in the Associated Press:

The mayor denied insulting members of the electoral council, insisting his words were a response to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu calling him "a fool" and accusing Imamoglu of criticizing Turkey during a visit to the European Parliament.

"The will of 16 million Istanbulites is on trial," the mayor’s office said in a firm statement just before Imamoglu's sentencing. "They are seeking to deprive the mayor of Istanbul of his political rights."

The supposed initial "insult" that Imamoglu is "guilty" of came after Erdogan's AK Party successfully achieved a new election after Imamoglu won a March 2019 upset for Istanbul mayor (he won the 'do-over' election too). It was considered a huge, historic defeat of the AK Party. And then, as AP recounts

Imamoglu was charged with insulting senior public officials after he described canceling legitimate elections as an act of "foolishness" on Nov. 4, 2019.

For this reason the obvious heavy-handed politically motivated prosecution is expected to result in fierce backlash from Imamoglu's supporters and other opposition groups, possibly resulting in large-scale protests and unrest. Erdogan and his political network have have spent years stacking the judiciary with loyalists, who have in turned worked to stamp out dissent, even in the areas of political speech - as has been made clear with Imamoglu's nearly 3-year prison sentence. 

What's more is that the court "imposed a political ban that could lead to his removal from office," according to the AP, ahead of the upcoming June 2023 presidential election.

In the meantime countless journalists as well as Kurdish and Armenian activists have also languished in Turkish prisons, given over the past decade mere speech-related "crimes" have been relentlessly clamped down on.

(Article by Tyler Durden republished from Zerohedge.com)

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