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Turkey's Erdogan takes legal action after lawmaker brands him 'fascist dictator' Open in fullscreen

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Turkey's Erdogan takes legal action after lawmaker brands him 'fascist dictator'

Insulting the president is against the law in Turkey [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 October, 2017

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President Tayyip Erdogan has filed a criminal complaint against a prominent opposition lawmaker who called the Turkish leader a 'fascist dictator' in a blistering criticism of his rule.
President Tayyip Erdogan has taken legal action against a prominent opposition lawmaker who called the Turkish leader a "fascist dictator".

The Turkish leader filed a criminal complaint against Bulent Tezcan, the spokesman for the main opposition Republican People's Party, who attacked what he said was a "fearful atmosphere" in Turkey.

Insulting the president is a crime punishable by up to four years in prison in Turkey.

Erdogan's lawyer, Huseyin Aydin, said on Twitter: "We have filed a legal petition concerning Bulent Tezcan with the Ankara chief prosecutor's office for the crime of insulting the president." Aydin also posted photos of the petition.

"The suspect's statements are part of a new campaign against our president and cannot be interpreted as an isolated incident," the petition said, saying such a campaign had also been launched ahead of last year's attempted coup.

His comments appeared to be in defence of the local mayor, a CHP member, who was questioned by authorities this month after he reportedly called Erdogan a "dictator" at a party congress.

"I don’t know if our mayor said that or not. I, here in Tekirdag, say it now: 'Erdogan is a fascist dictator'," Tezcan said.

Erdogan's office and lawmakers from his ruling AK Party responded swiftly, with the president's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin saying Tezcan's "hate speech is an example of disgrace for the main opposition".

Lawyers for Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, have filed more than 1,800 cases against people including cartoonists, a former Miss Turkey winner and schoolchildren on accusations of insulting him.

Following the failed July 15 coup last year, Erdogan said he would drop outstanding cases in a one-off gesture.

However rights groups and some Western governments have voiced concerns that Turkey is sliding toward authoritarianism.

Some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs and more than 50,000 jailed pending trial on suspicion of links to the failed coup and its suspected ringleader Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Erdogan says such measures under a nationwide state of emergency are necessary to ensure stability and defend Turkey from threats to its security.

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