Istanbul Mayor Sentenced for Insulting Officials

A Turkish court on Wednesday handed a more than 2.5-year jail sentence and a political ban to the mayor of Istanbul and key opposition politician, Ekrem İmamoğlu, on charges of insulting members of the Supreme Electoral Council.

Istanbul Mayor Sentenced for Insulting Officials
Image credit: Reuters [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • A Turkish court on Wednesday handed a more than 2.5-year jail sentence and a political ban to the mayor of Istanbul and key opposition politician, Ekrem İmamoğlu, on charges of insulting members of the Supreme Electoral Council.
  • The lawsuit against him was prompted by a 2019 comment by İmamoğlu to celebrate his electoral victory. He stated in a press release that "the ones who canceled the March 31 election are fools," referring to an annulled election he had also won.
  • İmamoğlu was sentenced to 2.7 months in prison. He hasn't been arrested and his party will appeal; per Turkish law, he wouldn't be incarcerated but would be barred from office and political activity during this time.
  • This conviction comes six months before presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, with İmamoğlu having been mentioned as a possible leading challenger to run against Pres. Erdoğan.
  • On Thursday, the six-party opposition National Alliance held a massive rally in Istanbul to support İmamoğlu, criticizing the decision and expressing that the opposition coalition will gather strength.
  • Recent polls have shown that İmamoğlu is among a limited group of opposition politicians who could conceivably defeat incumbent Erdoğan in June's presidential election as Turkey reels from economic stress.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Guardian , New York Times, Reuters, Hurriyetdaily, and Washington Post.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by DW. This ruling demonstrates Erdoğan's efforts to use the court to rid himself of yet another possible contender in the upcoming presidential election. His regime has long used defamation and insulting charges to suppress dissent, with thousands in Turkey convicted on these charges since Erdoğan took power in 2014.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Daily Sabah. The opposition's allegations that the ruling against İmamoğlu was politically motivated are absurd. No person, authority, or body can interfere in the exercise of judicial power in Turkey. This is not a final decision, and the appeals process will continue with due process.