Two neighbors of Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun has come to his defense over reports of his illegal construction in Istanbul's Kuzguncuk neighborhood.
Singer Şükriye Tutkun and art director Yudum Yontan, two neighbors of Altun and his wife Fatmanur Altun, said that the land that the construction was made was a dump where drug addicts were dwelling in, hence finding the construction a positive move for the neighborhood.
They also said that police were coming to the land frequently to take drug addicts away.
"Maybe they will invite us [to the gazebo constructed on the land] and we will drink coffee here as the neighborhood residents," Tutkun said.
The neighbors' comments came after a report by daily Cumhuriyet, which said that the Istanbul Municipality demolished Fahrettin Altun's illegal construction upon neighbors' complaints.
According to the report, neighborhood residents said that landscaping work was being carried out on the lot that Altun rented from the Foundations’ General Directorate. A gazebo was built and a fireplace was installed, in addition to the putting up of a wall with barbed wire, they also said.
Tutkun also praised Altun for "living a modest life."
"He lives in a 50-meter-square house. He sends his son to Kuzguncuk State School. They throw away their own garbage. He chose this life, what else do you want?" Tutkun said.
"I love them because they love animals. I think it [the construction] is nice," Yontan said.
Social media users, however, pointed to Tutkun's recent Instagram and Twitter posts, as well as her retweets, that complimented the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), saying that her defense is done solely over political reasons.
In one of these posts, Tutkun is seen with Family and Social Policies Minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk.
Both Fahrettin Altun and Fatmanur Altun thanked Tutkun for her comments.
"As your neighbors, we are always against injustice," Tutkun said in return.
'For security and hygiene'
Fatmanur Altun, meanwhile, said that they made the construction to ensure security and hygiene.
"According to the neighbors, the place was filled with fleas because of its filthiness. We rented the lot for 10 years and carried out landscaping. We planted beautiful flowers and formed a sitting area. We also put a little pergola and something similar to a barbecue," Altun, who is also the head of the pro-government Turkey Youth and Education Service Foundation (TÜRGEV) said.
"Municipality teams followed the works on the lot as if they had nothing else to do. They removed the pergola and the barbecue," she added.
Hours after the report, Fahrettin Altun's lawyer filed a criminal complaint against the daily.
He also sued main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu for claiming that Altun rented the lot from the Foundations’ General Directorate when his illegal construction was caught.