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The United States accuses Turkey of harassment

The United States accuses Turkey of harassment

Ekrem Imamoglu, Mayor of Istanbul. Photo: Khalil Hamra/Associated Press/DPA

Istanbul Mayor Imamoglu is a promising rival to Erdogan – a court has now imposed a political ban on him. The US State Department finds clear words.

ISTANBUL – The United States has accused Turkey of “harassment” in connection with the court-ordered ban on politics for the mayor of Istanbul. The US State Department said it was “deeply concerned and disappointed by the ruling” and “continued judicial harassment of representatives of civil society, media, politics and business”.

Ekrem Imamoglu, a politician from the Republican People’s Party, the country’s strongest opposition party, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and a political ban. The ruling stated that he had insulted election officials by calling them “stupid”. Only when the verdict is final will Imamoglu have to resign as mayor of Istanbul.

The 52-year-old had won the post of enormous political clout in 2019, thus inflicting a bitter defeat on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his conservative Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party. Imamoglu was previously considered a promising contender for Erdogan in next year’s presidential elections. According to the Istanbul City Administration, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has already appealed the verdict because the sentence is too low.

Critics described the case against Imamoglu as “politically motivated”. The Turkish government, in turn, criticized this portrayal as a “campaign of mass killing” against Erdogan and the government.