Fethullah Gülen to file lawsuit against PM Erdoğan over defamation campaign

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Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen plans to file a lawsuit against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for an endless smear campaign and slander, accusing Erdoğan of pursuing a concerted effort to foment animosity and hatred in society through the use of hate speech in rallies, meetings and TV interviews, Gülen’s lawyer said late on Friday.

Nurullah Albayrak, Gülen’s lawyer, said in a statement that the prime minister is hurling baseless accusations and slander against Gülen, wrongly accusing the Islamic scholar of contriving an ongoing corruption scandal in a bid to unseat him.

Erdoğan portrayed the sweeping corruption scandal, which broke on Dec. 17 and implicated his close associates and even his own family, as a plot by the Gülen movement, a civil society organization inspired by the scholar that seeks to improve education and interfaith dialogue around the world, to weaken his government ahead of critical local polls scheduled for March 30.

Gülen and his followers are at the center of Erdoğan’s accusations, although the prime minister has so far failed to present solid evidence to prove that the Hizmet movement is behind the Dec. 17 anti-corruption operation. Moving on to this day, Erdoğan’s government reassigned thousands of police officers and purged more than 200 prosecutors in a major reshuffle, a policy which critics say enables the prime minister to impede any investigation of corruption.

Albayrak said Erdoğan’s claims against Gülen are groundless and do not reflect reality. Among dozens of accusations, Gülen is accused of working to unseat Erdoğan’s government by triggering the anti-corruption investigation. Strongly rejecting such an accusation, Albayrak also touched upon other claims brought up by Erdoğan on a number of occasions leading up to the local elections.

Being a local partner in a foreign plot, cooperating with international powers to unseat the government, enslaving the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to make them pursue its own political bidding, holding the national will and democracy captive, installing a bugging device at the Prime Minister’s Office are several of the accusations made by Erdoğan against Gülen and the Hizmet movement, Albayrak said in his statement. He went on to say that the prime minister also accused the movement and its spiritual leader of forming a gang within the police and the judiciary, threatening politicians and businessmen, plotting against the opposition CHP and MHP, as well as plotting against former CHP leader Deniz Baykal and other deputies.

Albayrak called on Erdoğan to prove his claims, or stop with the slander and smear campaign.

Incessantly accusing the movement of being the culprit behind any plot in Turkey’s political drama, Erdoğan has so far failed to present any persuasive evidence and has not appealed to a court, Albayrak stated.

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