The President of the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Verbeek, has made the following statement concerning the prison sentence and political ban imposed on the Mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, by a Turkish court on 14 December:
“I am extremely concerned about this decision, which aims to remove the mayor of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality from political office. This decision not only violates the rights of Ekrem İmamoğlu himself, but it once again disregards the suffrage expressed by the voters of Istanbul. It is a direct attack on local democracy.
“Freedom of expression, a fundamental right in any democracy, is never more important than during election periods. This decision is therefore very worrying in terms of the state of democracy in Turkey.”