Messy web of ties, some to Trump, in Turkish mogul's case

Relations between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Germany and Turkey have been strained by disputes centred on human rights issues, especially since last July's failed coup and a subsequent crackdown on alleged conspirators.

President Tayyip Erdogan has called on Turkish voters in Europe to defy the "grandchildren of Nazism" and back the referendum on changing the constitution.

Turkey blames the July 15 coup on supporters of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is based in the USA, and Ankara has since taken steps to expand Erdogan's power. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later. Gulen denies orchestrating it.

The returned reports listed the names, addresses and social media activity of alleged dissenters, as well as of publishing houses, media groups, educational centres, politicians and schools deemed to support the US-based cleric. The government has outlawed his large organization, the Gulen movement, in the country and has branded it as Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

Kilicdaroglu also said that Ankara had detained thousands of people allegedly linked to FETO, but failed to take any action against its political wing.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the comments were an "insult" to the memory of the 249 people who were killed in the coup. "But more will follow", Erdogan said in a speech in the Trabzon region near the Black Sea ahead of the April 16 referendum on expanding his powers.

"If you have a dossier then out with it!" retorted the Turkish leader, adding, "But it's a big lie".

This is the first time that Kilicdaroglu, who backed Erdogan after the coup but opposes his plan for an executive presidency system, has cast doubt on the official narrative of events. Is this not an insult to the martyrs and the heroes?

Saying all listed people in his state had been warned, he accused the Turkish government of having an "almost paranoid fear of conspiracy" and of trying to silence its critics, with 41,000 arrested in the post-coup crackdown on Gulen supporters.

  • Leroy Wright