Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan is seeking around $630,000 in compensation for alleged slanderous remarks by a prominent businessman and political rival, one of his lawyers said on Thursday.
Erdogan takes his reputation very
This will be Erdogan's second legal action in the space of a week against Cem Uzan, who is also president of the fast-growing right of centre Youth Party now seen as a strong rival to the ruling AKP.
The alleged slander is based on remarks Uzan made at a recent political rally after the government decided to take over his power utilities business.
At the rally, Uzan strongly criticized the prime minister, without mentioning him by name. "You are treacherous man. What sort of a Muslim are you? You have become an infidel," Uzan reportedly said.
Uzan's rally came a day after the energy ministry cancelled operational licences and reclaimed control of two power utilities owned by Uzan’s family - after the companies had refused to transfer some distribution rights to the state as demanded by law.
In his petition, Erdogan is demanding around $140,000 in compensation from Uzan himself and $490,000 from three television stations and one Uzan-owned daily newspaper, lawyer Gunaydin Caliskan told journalists.
Last week, the prime minister also filed a legal complaint against Uzan and his media organizations on other charges of slander for which the businessman could go on trial if the prosecution deems the case likely to succeed.
If jailed, Uzan could be declared ineligible for election to national political office.
The businessman’s family are no strangers to controversy. They have been taken to court by US mobile phone giant Motorola which claimed that Uzan's mobile phone operator, Telsim, defrauded it of billions of dollars. Telsim denies the charges.
Earlier this month, the family put in the highest bid for the state-run petrochemicals firm Petkim in a privatisation auction, which still needs to be approved by privatisation authorities.