Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that the government has wiretapped the phones of opposition mayors.
Speaking to reporters on Dec. 28, Kılıçdaroğlu said that a special team was formed to look into the employees hired by the opposition municipalities.
His remarks came after the Interior Ministry on Dec. 26 announced that an investigation was launched into claims that the CHP-run Istanbul Municipality has hired dozens of personnel linked to "terrorist organizations."
The ministry claimed that over 550 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 ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that's believed to be the mastermind of July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, as well as other CHP officials, slammed Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu for the investigation, asking why no action was taken against the "terror-linked" people if authorities were aware of the issue.
"If the minister determined that terrorists are employed by the Istanbul Municipality, he should resign right away. He hasn't carried out his duties then," İmamoğlu said.
İmamoğlu is one of the figures targeted frequently by Erdoğan and the 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.
Despite these attempts, İmamoğlu's job approval rate has been increasing while the AKP's votes melt, according to various polls.
Kılıçdaroğlu on Dec. 28 said that Erdoğan couldn't handle the CHP's success in local governance and that the government is attacking the municipalities due to not being able to bear this success.
"They have wiretapped our mayors' phones. They have set up special teams to look into the employees hired by these municipalities," Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that the AKP wants to use the Istanbul Municipality's resources and that's why it attacks İmamoğlu the most.
Separately, Kılıçdaroğlu met with mayors of metropolitan municipalities and told them to work at the same pace in the face of the government's targeting.