June 29, 2018 / 12:06 PM / in 5 months

Turkey arrests former opposition lawmaker on terrorism charges: court

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court ordered a main opposition party politician jailed pending trial on Friday on charges including aiding a terrorist organization, a court document showed.

The move came a few days after Eren Erdem lost his seat in parliament in the June 24 elections.

Istanbul prosecutors are seeking a jail sentence of up to 22 years for Erdem, from the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP). He is accused of publishing illegal wiretappings when he was the editor of an opposition newspaper in 2014.

Erdem had already been barred from leaving Turkey due to the investigation and a hearing was set for September, but prosecutors sought his immediate arrest, saying he was a flight risk, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

He is the second CHP politician to be jailed after Enis Berberoglu, who was detained following a government purge in the aftermath of an attempted military coup in July 2016.

Berberoglu was convicted of espionage after allegedly giving an opposition newspaper a video purporting to show Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons to Syria.

Erdem is charged with assisting the followers of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of orchestrating the failed 2016 putsch. Gulen denies any connection with it.

“The reason for this arrest is to prepare the ground for the lie that the ‘CHP is cooperating with terror’,” another CHP politician, former MP Baris Yarkadas, wrote on Twitter.

Tensions between the CHP and the government escalated this week after the interior minister said he banned CHP officials from attending soldiers’ funerals in an official capacity, accusing the CHP of supporting Kurdish militants.

Tayyip Erdogan won a new five-year term as president and his Islamist-rooted AK Party and its nationalist allies secured a parliamentary majority in the elections on Sunday.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Gulsen Solaker; Editing by Daren Butler/Mark Heinrich

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