Turkish court acquits CHP Istanbul chair sued for calling Erdoğan 'dictator'

A Turkish court has acquitted main opposition CHP Istanbul chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu in the case launched after she called President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan "dictator."

CHP Istanbul chair Kaftancıoğlu (L) and President Erdoğan (R)

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An Istanbul court has acquitted main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul provincial chairwoman Canan Kaftancıoğlu who was sued over her remarks calling President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a "dictator." Kaftancıoğlu was on trial over the charges of “insulting the President.” 

In the final hearing of the case held in Bakırköy 23rd Criminal Court of First Instance, Kaftancıoğlu said “The term dictator is a concept used in international political terminology. I see no problem in using this concept. It is an observation rather than an insult,” ANKA News Agency reported on April 26.

In the previous hearing, the prosecutor sought acquittal of Kaftancıoğlu. 

The court ruled to acquit Kaftancıoğlu, saying her remarks could not be considered “insulting.”

In her remarks that led to her prosecution, Kaftancıoğlu said “Maybe we will overthrow a dictator through democracy for the first time in the history of the world by relying on the energy you have created,” referring to President Erdoğan

Kaftancıoğlu is widely credited for the opposition's victory in Istanbul local elections in 2019, which was the first defeat for President Receğ Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 25 years.

She was handed down a political ban in June 2022 after Turkey's top appeals court upheld a five-year jail sentence against her on charges including insulting the president, meaning she cannot run as a candidate.

Under Turkish law, she was not required to serve the full sentence and was jailed for several hours in May before her release.