Turkey’s Interior Ministry announced on Dec. 24 that they filed a criminal complaint against the opposition-run Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality after they “understand” that 1668 personnel who are linked to “terrorist organizations” are employed in the municipality.
The Interior Ministry claimed one year ago that hundreds of municipality personnel are suspected of having links to "terrorist groups," including the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and the Marxist–Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).
The ministry also claimed that some people were reported to have links with the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, an ally-turned-foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP that's believed to be the mastermind of July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
Over the investigation, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu slammed Soylu's claims at the time and said that the minister wasn't mentally well and called him to resign. He asked “Am I an intelligence organization? Am I the judiciary?"
The ministry said on Dec. 24 that their investigation against the municipality was finalized, adding that “It has been understood 1668 people affiliated with terrorist organizations are working in the municipality and its companies. 484 out of 505 people who are subject to this investigation were recruited without a security investigation.”
It added that they filed a criminal complaint against those “who are responsible” on Dec. 9.
Sorumlular hakkında 09/12/2022'de İstanbul Cumhuriyet Başsavcılığı'na suç duyurusunda bulunuldu⬇️https://t.co/kd1fxJkYQ3— T.C. İçişleri Bakanlığı (@TC_icisleri) December 24, 2022
In response, İmamoğlu said the government is trying to appoint a trustee mayor to the municipality.
“They assumed the title of being the owner of the state. They began to think that the country, like Istanbul, was their property,” İmamoğlu said during a meeting with 11 Republican People’s Party (CHP) Metropolitan Mayors in the Central Anatolian province of Konya.
“Now, they are trying to appoint trustee mayors to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and many other CHP municipalities,” he further said.
11 CHP Mayors also released a statement on the latest pressure against İmamoğlu. The statement deemed the latest moves “non-democratic” and said they "will not bow down."
11 Büyükşehir Belediye Başkanı Ortak Bildiri metnimizdir. pic.twitter.com/FZq14mZ93M— Ekrem İmamoğlu (@ekrem_imamoglu) December 24, 2022
İmamoğlu is one of the figures targeted frequently by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ever since his decisive victory in the Istanbul elections. Infuriated by losing Turkey's largest city to the main opposition, the AKP has been making İmamoğlu face investigations on bogus charges.
A Turkish court on Dec. 14 sentenced Istanbul Mayor İmamoğlu to two years and seven months in prison on charges of “insulting” 11 members of Turkey's High Election Board (YSK). The court also imposed a political ban on İmamoğlu, a popular rival to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which must be confirmed by an appeals court before application.