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Turkey indicts member of main opposition over tweets

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Turkey indicts member of main opposition over tweets
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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish prosecutors have prepared an indictment accusing the main opposition party’s Istanbul head of insulting the president and terrorist propaganda on Twitter, a Turkish official said on Thursday.

The Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Canan Kaftancioglu, a harsh critic of government policy, was prominent in campaigning for March 31 local elections in Turkey’s largest city.

Although the CHP was declared the winner of the mayoral vote, after 25 years of rule by President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party and its Islamist predecessors, authorities annulled the vote, citing irregularities, and scheduled a re-run for June 23.

The indictment accused Kaftancioglu of insulting the Turkish government, the president and public servants, inciting hatred and enmity, and distributing propaganda for a terrorist organisation, mostly on the basis of tweets posted between 2012 and 2017, the official said.

The indictment, prepared after an investigation that has lasted more than a year, seeks a jail sentence of between two-years-and-nine-months and 11 years, the official said.

The indictment quotes Kaftancioglu as saying in a statement to the prosecutor’s office that her tweets were within the legal bounds of freedom of expression and criticism, the official said.

In one tweet considered terrorist propaganda in the indictment, Kaftancioglu quoted a senior member of the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group.

In another, cited as insulting the state, she referred to the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit in the head by a tear gas cartridge during anti-government protests in Istanbul in 2013.

Since her appointment last year as the CHP’s provincial head, Kaftancioglu has been heavily criticised by members of Erdogan’s AK Party.

A spokesman for Kaftancioglu’s office was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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