Turkey Upholds Detention Of Opposition Politician Accused Of Terrorism

Eren Erdem, a former opposition lawmaker from Republican People’s Party (CHP), was detained upon the orders of the higher court, shortly after a lower court freed him on bail on January 7. His immediate arrest was requested by prosecutors citing “the risk of his escape from the country”.

An upper court in Istanbul accepted the prosecutors’ appeal against his release.  The prosecutor reiterated his plea for Erdem to be sentenced to jail from 8.5 years to 19 years. 

The former MP is accused of “publishing illegal wiretapping carried out by FETÖ” when he was the editor-in-chief of now-shuttered Karşı newspaper.

Erdem has been in jail on two charges. The first charge is for allegedly assisting a terrorist organization of which he was not even a member of.  The second charge is for allegedly violating the confidentiality of an ongoing criminal investigation.

He was arrested in the Turkish capital of Ankara after the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a warrant on June 29, 2018.

Erdem has denied the allegations. He has maintained that he does not the followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is the alleged orchestrator of the failed 2016 coup.

Likewise, Gulen who is now based in United States has denied any connection with the 2016 putsch.

Erdem is the second lawmaker from CHP to be detained after the government carried out a large scale security crackdown which was prompted by the failed military coup attempt in 2016. 

Enis Berberoglu was sentenced to 25 years in jail on espionage allegations in June 2017, but was freed in September. Like Erdem he denies the charges against him.

Since the crackdown, 77,000 people have been formally arrested, while more than 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been dismissed or suspended from jobs over alleged links to Gulen’s network.

Rights groups, critics and some Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the scale of the crackdown citing that Erdogan was using the failed coup as an excuse to suppress opposition. In their defense, the government said that their actions are justified by the gravity of the threat.

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