A Turkish political scientist, Berk Esen, was briefly detained on Sunday evening, a few days before the elections, upon his arrival at Istanbul airport for a tweet dating back to 2020, he reported on Twitter.

"I am being held by the police at the airport as I return to the country," said Berk Esen, announcing a few hours later that he had been "released on condition that I testify (in court) in five days." Contacted by AFP, Berk Esen, professor of political science at Sabanci University in Istanbul, confirmed his message.

This incident comes a few days before the presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14, in a Turkey polarized between the camp of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in power for twenty years and his main opponent, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, candidate of a coalition of six opposition parties.

Mr. Esen explained on Twitter that this arrest was related to "a complaint filed by Cihat Yayci", admiral of the Turkish navy, dismissed from his post by presidential decree in May 2020 and who had preferred to resign.

"The prosecutor issued a warrant for a complaint filed by Cihat Yayci about a tweet that contained no personal insults and about which I had already testified months ago. I live in Turkey, no notification has been made to me. Do we need this?" he wrote on Twitter.

In a study published in May 2020, Berk Esen and other researchers questioned the authoritarian drift of the power and the AKP presidential party, ("Why is Turkish democracy collapsing"), claiming that "Turkey is no longer a democracy".

On Sunday, the campaign bus of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who is very committed to Kiliçdaroglu and a champion of the opposition to President Erdogan since his election in 2019, was stoned in eastern Turkey, a stronghold of the AKP.

Mr. Imamoglu is the subject of a conviction which he appealed but which deprived him of any candidacy for this election.

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  • Turkey
  • Arrest