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Erdogan withdraws thousands of lawsuits for 'insults against his person'

Recep Erdogan said he was inspired by feelings of unity that has followed the recent failed coup.

President Erdogan delivering his speech in Ankara yesterday.
President Erdogan delivering his speech in Ankara yesterday.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

TURKISH PRESIDENT RECEP Tayyip Erdogan has said he is dropping all lawsuits against those charged with insulting him.

Speaking at an event in Ankara commemorating those killed and wounded during a failed 15 July military coup, Mr Erdogan said he was withdrawing all the lawsuits for insults against his person.

He said he was inspired by feelings of unity that has followed the recent failed coup.

“For one time only, I will be forgiving and withdrawing all cases against the many disrespects and insults that have been levelled against me,” he said.

I feel that if we do not make use of this opportunity correctly, then it will give the people the right to hold us by the throat.

“So I feel that all factions of society, politicians first and foremost, will behave accordingly with this new reality, this new sensitive situation before us.”

Hundreds of people have been charged with insulting the president, including on social media.

Authorities said some 2,000 people were facing such prosecutions.

Turkey Military Coup Pro-government supporters protest on Istanbul's iconic Bosporus Bridge in the wake of the failed military putsch. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Rejected allegations

Erdogan earlier blasted US Gen Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, saying he was “on the side of the coup plotters”.

On Thursday General Votel said that the jailing of some military leaders with whom the US had relationships with could damage Turkish-American military co-operation.

On Friday, the Pentagon flatly rejected allegations by Erdogan that the US military was somehow involved in or in any way supported the recent failed coup in that country.

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Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said any suggestion that the U.S. supported the coup was absurd and wrong, and echoed Votel’s comments, saying:

If you are no longer able to talk to a counterpart that you’ve dealt with for some time, there’s a concern that there might be some breakdown in communication.

“We are trying to work through that with the Turks and have every confidence we’ll be able to do that.”

Media crackdown

Erdogan was also defiant in the face of criticism over his crackdown, which the interior ministry said on Friday had seen 18,000 detentions, including of several journalists.

He said: “Some people give us advice. They say they are worried. Mind your own business!

Look at your own deeds.

“Not a single person has come to give condolences either from the European Union… or from the West…

Those countries or leaders who are not worried about Turkey’s democracy, the lives of our people, its future – while being so worried about the fate of the putschists – cannot be our friends.

Read: Turkey coup: 265 killed in clashes, almost 3,000 soldiers detained

Read: Turkey: Erdogan cries on national television as 6,000 are rounded up and arrested

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