EP Turkey rapporteur says Imamoglu has become a “political hostage”
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has become a political hostage, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor said.
Describing the situation of the judiciary in Turkey as “terrible” during a press conference in Ankara on Tuesday, Amor said “the recent conviction of Imamoglu has made him a kind of political hostage”.
A Turkish court last week has sentenced Imamoglu to 2 years, 7 months and 15 days in prison on charges of insulting the members of a top election board. The court also banned him from politics, a decision which needs to be finalized by the supreme court in order to be implemented.
EU rapporteur said Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas and philanthropist Osman Kavala could also be defined as political hostages in Turkey’s prisons, Kronos news website reported.
Nacho Sanchez Amor held a two-day visit to Turkey ahead of EP’s annual report on the country.
Sharing his assessments over his visit in a press conference in capital Ankara, Amor expressed concerns on the situation of human rights and the rule of law in Turkey.
“There is no progress in these areas,” Amor said.
Defining Turkish judiciary as “unpredictable”, Amor said Imamoglu’s statement which the case was built on should not have had any legal consequences.
“Freedom of expression in democracies should only be limited in very severe and serious situations,” he said.
In May 2019, Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) ruled to annul and re-run the mayoral election held on March 31, 2019, after the AKP appealed the vote, claiming that the opposition candidate Imamoglu’s victory came after electoral fraud and irregularities.
Condemning the YSK’s decision, Imamoglu said the electoral board had bowed to pressure from the ruling party. “Those who cancelled the election are fools,” he said.