ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s Interior Ministry removed the opposition mayor of Istanbul’s Besiktas municipality from office on Thursday, accusing him of links to the 2016 attempted coup and corruption.
In a statement, it said police were investigating Murat Hazinedar’s alleged links to the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of masterminding the plot.
Hazinedar, a member of the secular main opposition Republic People Party (CHP), denies any link to Gulen. Gulen denies any involvement in the attempted coup.
At a news conference, Hazinedar called on President Tayyip Erdogan to “get his hands off my family”, after his wife and son were barred from traveling abroad due to the investigations.
The ministry said it had also removed two other members of the council in Besiktas, one of the largest municipalities in Turkey’s biggest city of Istanbul.
The move against Hazinedar marked the second time the ministry has removed a CHP mayor from office since its chairman in November accused members of Erdogan’s family of transferring $14 million to a company in the Isle of Man.
Erdogan denied and dismissed the accusations as lies, and has since taken CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu to court, saying he would “pay the price”.
Last year, Erdogan also called for the resignation of mayors in a purge of local politics leading six mayors to step down, including those of Istanbul and Ankara.
Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Ece Toksabay and Alison Williams