Turkey jails founder of opposition party pending trial

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ANKARA, Nov.29 (Reuters) – A Turkish court has jailed Metin Gurcan, founder of the Turkish Party for Democracy and Progress (DEVA), on charges of “political and military espionage” pending trial, an agency said on Monday public press.

Gurcan, a retired member of the Turkish armed forces, helped establish DEVA with Ali Babacan, former deputy prime minister and minister to President Tayyip Erdogan. Gurcan is also a defense analyst.

State agency Anadolu said police questioned Gurcan about his contacts with foreign diplomats based in Ankara, the Turkish capital. The court was not immediately available for comment.

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In a television interview on Monday, Babacan said his party supported Gurcan and his lawyers would support him “until the end”. The party had yet to find out the details of the investigation, Babacan said.

“Gurcan’s work is based on open sources. He has no access to state secrets,” Babacan said.

Last week, Babacan said the holding of Gurcan was an attempt to distract from the economic crisis, marked by the currency falling to all-time lows.

The pound has lost up to 25% of its value since the start of last week amid concerns over the aggressive interest rate cuts backed by Erdogan.

Polls show support for DEVA, founded in March 2020, of around 2%, while support for Erdogan and his AK party is at its lowest for several years. The Turks cited economic mismanagement as one of the main factors.

DEVA and other opposition parties have called for urgent elections amid the collapse of the pound, but the government has said presidential and general elections will be held as scheduled in June 2023.

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Reporting by Ece Toksabay; edited by Grant McCool

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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