President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sued main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu after he pointed to Erdoğan as the politician who paved the way for the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen to infiltrate into state institutions.
The move was shortly followed by Kılıçdaroğlu also filing a lawsuit against the president.
The lawsuits are the latest developments in the row over the political leg of the Gülen movement, which is officially called the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) – the group widely believed to have been behind the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt that claimed the lives of over 250 people.
While Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Gülenists had strong ties in the past, their relations were soured in 2013 when prosecutors close to the preacher launched corruption probes targeting figures close to the government.
The government has repeatedly been urged to reveal the political leg of the Gülenists, but to no avail.
Kılıçdaroğlu on Feb. 11 said that Erdoğan handed the state to Gülenists, prompting the president to file a lawsuit, demanding 500,000 Turkish Liras as compensation.
“This organization began seeing itself as the sole ruler of Turkish Republic in 2010 and Erdoğan is the one who allowed it. FETÖ’s political leg in the state is Erdoğan,” Kılıçdaroğlu told members of his CHP.
A day later, Erdoğan returned the accusations, saying that Kılıçdaroğlu is FETÖ’s political leg.
“FETÖ entered Kılıçdaroğlu’s bedroom,” Erdoğan said on Feb. 12, which was followed by him suing the main opposition leader.
Commenting on the lawsuit and the compensation demand, Kılıçdaroğlu’s lawyer Celal Çelik released a defiant statement.
“Erdoğan filed a lawsuit, demanding 500,000 liras to create a perception once again! We are so afraid! Bring it on!” Çelik tweeted on Feb. 13, adding that a counter suit is on the way.
“We expect all members of the press to attend the hearings of the case. They [the AKP and Erdoğan] will regret it. We will prove that our claims are correct,” he also said.
Erdoğan has sued Kılıçdaroğlu with compensation demands on several occasions in recent years over various comments.
Earlier, CHP Group Deputy Chairman Özgür Özel said that the party found the demand of 500,000 liras less than Erdoğan’s previous demands.
“We would expect him to demand 1.5 or 2 million liras. This is below his own record,” Özel told reporters, referring to the president’s previous lawsuit worth 1 million liras.
“It means that we couldn’t disturb him as much as we did previously, since he didn’t break his own record. We will think about that,” he also said.