Turkey frees prominent opposition lawmaker Berberoglu

Turkish lawmaker Enis Berberoglu was accused of leaking footage to opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper suggesting Turkey had smuggled arms to Islamic rebels in Syria. (Reuters)
Updated 21 September 2018
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Turkey frees prominent opposition lawmaker Berberoglu

  • Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s pro-secular Republican People’s Party, or CHP, welcomed the release of Berberoglu
  • Kilicdaroglu led a 450-kilometer (280-mile) march from Ankara to the prison where Berberoglu was jailed

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court on Thursday released a prominent lawmaker from the main opposition party who had been sentenced to more than five years in prison for revealing state secrets and espionage.
State-run news agency Anadolu said Thursday the sentence of Enis Berberoglu, re-elected in June, has been suspended for as long as he remains a lawmaker.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s pro-secular Republican People’s Party, or CHP, welcomed the release of Berberoglu, tweeting: “We will continue to chase justice for everyone.”
Berberoglu met his family and CHP members, including Kilicdaroglu, after his release from an Istanbul prison, Turkey’s private Demiroren news agency reported.
Berberoglu, a 62 year-old former journalist, was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison in June 2017 for allegedly leaking footage to opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper suggesting Turkey had smuggled arms to Islamic rebels in Syria. In February, the sentence was reduced to five years and 10 months.
In July 2017, Kilicdaroglu led a 450-kilometer (280-mile) march from Ankara to the prison where Berberoglu was jailed to protest the government’s crackdown following an attempted coup.
Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people since the failed coup and fired at least 110,000 others from government jobs. The crackdown was initially launched to deal with alleged coup-plotters, but critics say it has expanded to include other government opponents, such as academics, journalists and legislators.


Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

Updated 16 February 2019
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Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday suggested the mosque in Athens should open with minarets if the Greek premier wants to reopen a seminary in Istanbul.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was in Turkey this month and visited the disputed landmarks of Hagia Sophia and the now-closed Greek Orthodox Halki seminary.
Tsipras said during the visit to the seminary located on Heybeli island off Istanbul on February 6 he hoped to reopen the school next time with Erdogan.
Future priests of the Constantinople diocese had been trained at the seminary, which was closed in 1971 after tensions between Ankara and Athens over Cyprus.
Erdogan on Saturday complained that the Fethiye Mosque in Athens had no minarets despite Greek insistence that it would open.
The mosque was built in 1458 during the Ottoman occupation of Greece but has not been used as a mosque since 1821.
“Look you want something from us, you want the Halki seminary. And I tell you (Greece), come, let’s open the Fethiye Mosque,” Erdogan said during a rally in the northwestern province of Edirne ahead of local elections on March 31.
“They said, ‘we are opening the mosque’ but I said, why isn’t there a minaret? Can a church be a church without a bell tower?” he said, describing his talks with Tsipras.
“We say, you want to build a bell tower? Come and do it... But what is an essential part of our mosques? The minarets,” the Turkish president added.
Erdogan said Tsipras told him he was wary of criticism from the Greek opposition.
After the independence war against Ottomans began in 1821, the minaret is believed by some to have been destroyed because it was a symbol of the Ottoman occupation.
Ankara had returned land taken from the seminary in 1943 but there is still international pressure on Turkey to reopen it.
Erdogan has previously said that its reopening is dependent on reciprocal steps from Greece to enhance the rights of the Turkish minority.