Turkey’s cyber police on Wednesday launched a legal probe into “baseless” social media posts speculating about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s health.
In a statement, the police said they were investigating 30 people who used or retweeted the hashtag #olmus (#heisdead), which became a top trending topic of Turkish Twitter.
Underscoring the government’s sensitivity about the posts, Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun tweeted a short clip on Wednesday showing the Turkish leader walking out of his official car along a turquoise carpet.
“Trust to friends, fear to enemies,” Altun wrote.
Rumours about the health of Erdogan, 67, have been swirling for years, with one of his doctors going on record in 2011 to deny that the Turkish leader had cancer.
In 2011, Erdogan, then prime minister, underwent laparoscopic gastrointestinal surgery and has been walking more gingerly ever since.
Erdogan was last seen in public on Sunday, when he met US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.
He then cancelled his planned attendance at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow citing a dispute over the security protocol.
The latest wave of speculation appears to have been prompted by Erdogan’s failure to attend a ceremony of his ruling party, which on Wednesday celebrated the 19th anniversary of its rise to power.
“In the course of the visit, the leaders of the two countries are expected to consider about two dozen Bilateral Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding, MOUs and they will authorize the signing of those on which there is a concurrence,” Shehu’s statement said.
“In addition to the bilateral discussions, President Erdogan will hold one-on-one meeting with President Buhari and he is expected to commission the Turkish Cultural Centre in Abuja while his wife, Emine, accompanied by the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari is expected to commission the newly-renovated Government Secondary School in Wuse 11.
“The school was renovated by a Turkish aid organization, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordinating Agency, TIKA.
“Nigeria considers Turkey a close partner and sees this visit as a milestone in our bilateral relations.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday congratulated Joe Biden on his victory over Donald Trump in the US presidential election, urging closer ties between the two NATO allies.
Erdogan’s statement came a full three days after US media called the election in Biden’s favour, underscoring the close personal bond the Turkish leader enjoyed with Trump.
Erdogan also sent a message to Trump, saying that “no matter how the official election result is certified,” he wanted to express thanks for his “warm friendship” during his four-year term.
But Ankara and Washington also experienced tensions under Trump’s watch, including over US support for a Syrian Kurdish militia that Turkey views as a grave security threat.
Erdogan told Biden that he wanted “to further develop and strengthen” ties.
“I congratulate you on your election success and convey my sincere wishes for the peace and welfare of the US people,” Erdogan said in a statement published by his office.
Other issues standing between Ankara and Washington include Turkey’s purchase of a high-tech Russian missile defence system, and US refusal to extradite a Muslim cleric Erdogan blames for staging a failed 2016 coup.
Turkish officials have been alarmed by an interview Biden gave to The New York Times in December in which he called Erdogan an “autocrat”.
Biden criticised the Turkish leader’s policies towards the Kurds and said Washington needed to “embolden” his rivals to allow them “to take on and defeat Erdogan”.
Erdogan’s spokesman said in August that the remarks showed “pure ignorance, arrogance, and hypocrisy”.
The Turkish leader did not directly address them in his statement Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil have yet to congratulate Biden.
Turkey strongly condemned the deal between Israel and Bahrain to normalise relations, describing it as a “fresh blow” to the Palestinian cause.
US President Donald Trump Friday announced the “peace deal” between Israel and Bahrain, which becomes the second Arab country to settle with its former foe in less than a month.
Turkey’s foreign ministry late Friday said Ankara was “concerned” by the move and “strongly condemned” the deal.
“The step will be a fresh blow to efforts to defend the Palestinian cause and will further embolden Israel to continue its illegal practices toward Palestine and its attempts to make the occupation of Palestinian territories permanent,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said the move was contrary to the commitments under the Arab Peace Initiative — which calls for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied after 1967 — and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a pious Muslim, is a strong advocate of Palestinian rights who has frequently criticised Israeli policies in the West Bank.
After last month’s deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, Erdogan warned Turkey could suspend diplomatic relations with the Gulf state in response.
A Turkish court on Tuesday ignored calls to release a businessman charged with seeking to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, despite a ruling by Europe’s top rights body.
Osman Kavala, a leading figure in Turkey’s civil society who has funded projects across the country, has been in pre-trial detention since November 2017.
Turkish prosecutors accuse him and 15 other leading figures in civil society of involvement in anti-Erdogan protests in 2013 and the failed coup in 2016.
Kavala, who appeared in the dock wearing a dark jacket and a white shirt, dismissed the charges as “completely groundless”, according to an AFP correspondent in court.
“The 657-page indictment… proves I am innocent rather than guilty,” he told the court.
“I demand this unlawful and discriminatory practice that placed me in prison for two years come to an end,” he added.
The Turkish court in Silivri in the outskirts of Istanbul set the next hearing for January 28.
The crowd applauded Kavala as he was led from the courtroom, saluting his supporters.
– European court ruling –
Two weeks ago, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) urged Turkey to “take every measure to put an end” to Kavala’s detention and “to secure his immediate release”.
In a damning ruling, the ECHR said Kavala was being held “not only on acts that could not be reasonably considered as behaviour criminalised under domestic law” but which were also protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Critics have denounced the charges as politically motivated and an example of Turkey’s crackdown on civil society.
But Erdogan has accused Kavala of being a Turkish agent of US financier George Soros.
Turkish MPs from opposition parties as well as diplomats from foreign consulates and international observers attended the Christmas Eve hearing in a show of solidarity.
Among them was Sergey Lagodinsky, chair of the European Parliament’s EU-Turkey Delegation.
Ankara had failed to implement the European court’s ruling which had sent “a very strong signal to the judges and the government in Turkey”, he told AFP.
“I think for a country that has, in its constitution and its legal framing, European human rights standards as part of its legal DNA, this is a very disappointing outcome.”
– Police testimony –
Canan Kaftancioglu, head of the opposition CHP party in Istanbul, said the rule of law was not functioning in Turkey.
“Kavala should not have remained in prison even one second after the European court’s ruling,” she told AFP.
The court also heard testimonies from two police officers who were on duty during the 2013 mass protests in Istanbul.
“In my personal opinion, Gezi was a protest that exceeded its purpose and caused serious damage,” said one of the officers, Ercan Orhan Aydin.
The nationwide protests in 2013, which threw up one of the biggest challenges to Erdogan, then prime minister, were sparked by the government plans to demolish Gezi park — the only green space in the centre of the city.
But the police officer said he did not know any of the defendants and was not aware whether they were involved in any violent act at the time.
“I saw Osman Kavala here for the first time,” he said, when asked by the defence lawyer.
A respected figure in intellectual circles, Kavala is chairman of the Anatolian Culture Foundation, which promotes human rights through art, including with neighbouring Armenia, with which Turkey has no diplomatic ties
Iran on Monday denounced as “unacceptable” any move by Turkey to establish military bases in Syria, saying such a step would face opposition from the Islamic republic and other countries.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey would set up 12 observation posts inside Syria as he warned Ankara would restart an operation against Kurdish forces across the border.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi criticised the planned move in response to a question at a news conference.
“The Turks can have any bases and can do anything on their own territory and within their borders, but if you mean… establishing Turkish bases in Syria, this is unacceptable,” Mousavi said in remarks aired on state television.
Such a step, he said, would be seen by Iran as an “aggression against the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent country.
“Naturally it will face opposition from the Islamic Republic of Iran and other countries,” Mousavi added.
Iran has repeatedly called for an immediate halt to the Turkish offensive in Syria, launched on October 9 after the United States announced it would withdraw all its troops from the area.
A US-brokered ceasefire gives Kurdish forces until Tuesday evening to withdraw from a buffer area Turkey wants to create on Syrian territory along its southern frontier.
In his remarks on Friday, Erdogan said the proposed “safe zone” would be 32 kilometres (20 miles) deep, and 444 kilometres in length, and patrolled by Turkey.
But, he said, “We have no intention to stay there. This is out of the question.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said he had spoken to Turkish-origin football star Mesut Ozil after his decision to quit the German team on the grounds of racism, offering his praise for the move.
“Last night I spoke to Mesut. His attitude in the statement is completely patriotic.
“It is not possible to accept this kind of racist attitude towards a young man who poured so much sweat for the German national team’s success. This cannot be tolerated,” Erdogan said, quoted by state TRT Haber broadcaster.
Ozil’s decision to quit playing for Germany and his strongly-worded four-page statement caused uproar in Germany even as it was applauded by Turkish ministers.
He had faced heavy criticism during the World Cup, especially over a controversial photograph with Erdogan in May ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls in Turkey.
Ozil, a key member of the squad which won the 2014 World Cup, criticised the German Football Association (DFB) bosses, sponsors and the media.
He lamented a lack of support from DFB president Reinhard Grindel.
“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil, 29, wrote.
But the association said in a statement on Monday that it rejected “the notion that the DFB is associated with racism”.
In his statement, Ozil addressed critics of the photo and said that he was not making a political statement when he appeared with the Turkish leader before the World Cup finals.
“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish,” said Ozil.
Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul on Monday congratulated Ozil, saying he had “scored the most beautiful goal against the virus of fascism.”
Turkish police have jailed one of the country’s most prominent cartoonists to serve out a 14-month sentence.
He was first handed down last year on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.
Nuri Kurtcebe, 69, was detained and sent to prison on Monday after a police check found him on a bus travelling in the northwestern Turkish city of Yalova, the private Dogan news agency reported.
His lawyer, Erdem Akyuz, told the media that the authorities were enforcing the sentence after an appeal was turned down by an upper court.
Kurtcebe was sentenced to a one year, two months and 15 days jail term for several caricatures he drew in 2015.
As it is customary in Turkey, he had been allowed to remain free while the appeal was pending. But once the appeal was rejected, an arrest warrant was issued.
“What is recognised all over the world is that artists express their work freely and that politicians, compared to others, are more tolerant to criticism,” Akyuz was quoted as saying by Dogan.
Akyuz also said that it was not clear in the court’s ruling which cartoons or expressions were the source of the charges.
Kurtcebe, whose daily cartoons were published in the Aydinlik newspaper, also drew for a number of publications including Hurriyet and opposition Cumhuriyet newspapers as well as satirical magazine Girgir.
Musa Kart, a Cumhuriyet cartoonist who was sentenced to three years and nine months jail in April on charges of aiding outlawed “terrorist organisations” along with several other staff, lashed out at the court’s verdict.
“It seems that the ruling party has not yet given up on its idea of neutralising cartoonists with prison sentences,” he said, quoted by Cumhuriyet.
“I hope and wish that this political climate deprived of a sense of humour will change on June 25,” he said.
Turkey is heading for parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24 when Erdogan is seeking a new mandate under the expanded powers of a full executive presidency.
Thousands of Turks, from a top model to high school students, have been prosecuted on charges of insulting Erdogan since he became president in 2014.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the suicide bombing which killed 51 people in the Turkish city of Gaziantep was carried out by a 12 to 14-year-old.
Mr Erdogan said the so-called Islamic State (IS) was behind the attack, which targeted a Kurdish wedding party. Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, is known to have several IS cells.
The bomb wounded 69 people and 17 of them seriously, he said.
Earlier report said 94 persons were injured in the blast, at an outdoor wedding party in the South Turkish City of Gaziantep.
The sound of the blast which occurred in an area popular with university students, could be heard across the city near the Syrian border.
Gaziantep, where the terrorists have been battling Syrian Kurdish forces is known to have several IS cells.
Turkey has been hit by a series of bombs both by IS and Kurdish militants in the past year, often targeting Kurdish gatherings in an effort to inflame ethnic tensions.
The previous deadliest one was last October at a rally of pro-Kurdish and labor activists in Ankara where suicide bombers killed more than 100 people.
Some witnesses describing the scene say, blood and burns marked the walls of the narrow lane where the blast hit. Women in white and checkered scarves cried, sitting cross-legged outside the morgue waiting for word on missing relatives.
25-year- old Veli Can says “The celebrations were coming to an end and there was a big explosion among people dancing, “There was blood and body parts everywhere.”
Security sources said: “hundreds gathered for funerals on Sunday, some weeping at coffins draped in the green color of Islam, local television images showed. But other funerals would have to wait because many of the victims were blown to pieces and DNA forensics tests would be needed to identify them.
In Gaziantep, the chief prosecutor’s office said they had found a destroyed suicide vest at the blast site.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has won a critical parliamentary election on Sunday, regaining the majority it lost in June.
With almost all ballots counted, the AKP had taken just shy of 50 per cent of the votes, comfortably enough to control a majority in the 550-seat parliament and a far higher margin of victory than even party insiders had expected.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that voters had “shown that they prefer action and development to controversy”. The pro-Kurdish HDP crossed the 1o per cent threshold needed to claim seats.
Erdogan said that the outcome was a vote for stability and a message to Kurdish insurgents in the country’s restive southeast that violence could not coexist with democracy.
Prime Minister and AKP leader, Ahmet Davutoglu, said on Twitter: “Today is a victory for our democracy and our people. Hopefully, we will serve you well for the next four years and stand in front of you once again in 2019.”
The nationalist MHP would also take seats in Ankara.
In a statement, President Erdogan said that the electorate had “given proof of their strong desire for the unity and integrity” of Turkey.
At AKP headquarters in Ankara, under a sky lit by fireworks, he later urged Turkey’s political parties to work together on a new constitution, which Erdogan has said he would like to see include executive powers for the presidency.
A senior official from the main CHP opposition, which had calculated on ‘reining in’ Erdogan’s influence with a coalition government, described the result as “simply a disaster”.
The outcome could aggravate deep splits in Turkey between pious conservatives, who champion Erdogan as a hero of the working class, and Western-facing secularists suspicious of his authoritarianism and Islamist ideals.
In June, the AKP lost the overall majority it had enjoyed since 2002.
In the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir, security forces fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters after support for the pro-Kurdish opposition fell perilously close to the 10 per cent threshold needed to enter parliament.