A Turkish court has accepted a complaint of the ruling party officials and halted an order from Istanbul’s new mayor to copy the databases in the municipality and its associated companies in a bid to investigate corruption allegations, Turkish media outlets reported on Friday.
Ekrem Imamoglu, Istanbul’s mayor-elect of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), received his official mandate on Wednesday, 17 days after the March 31 local election, as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) appealed the results, causing long-run vote recounts.
On his first day as mayor, Imamoglu gave an order to copy the databases of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) and its affiliated companies. Accordingly, a group of five, including three experts outside the IBB, was created for the task.
The Istanbul 4th Administrative Court has halted the copying task due to an appeal by the ruling AKP members, who are reportedly Omer Faruk Kalayci, vice-president of AKP Istanbul Province and Yuksel Akyol, head of the IBB Public Works Commission.
In its ruling, the court has demanded the new administration of IBB should explain the reasons behind the copying act.
Speaking in a televised interview with A Haber, a pro-government news channel, AKP lawmaker Abdullah Guler claimed late on Thursday that Imamoglu had committed a crime by ordering to copy the databases, an act that may lead to a sentence of between two and four years in jail.
For Guler, the copying move may pave the way for terrorist organizations to gain access to sensitive IBB data.
“Even if Imamoglu has the mandate, we are talking here about someone whose mandate is still in question,” AKP lawmaker said, referring to the appeal submitted by AKP to the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) for the re-run of Istanbul elections.
Guler also questioned Imamoglu’s good faith, as he ordered copying, instead of carrying out an investigation. Guler labeled Imamoglu’s directive of serving personal, political, and commercial purposes.
On the other end, the IBB released a written statement, saying that the information copied would be kept secret inside the municipality.
“This is only an order, in accordance with the law, that aims to keep the memory of Istanbul inside the institution. The information has been archived in a bid to transfer it to the future reliably. [I regret to inform, however] we have archived due to some findings, not speculations,” Imamoglu told reporters on Friday.
After the court ruling, the IBB published a statement, declaring that the IBB administration had not yet been officially informed about the court’s decision to stop the execution.
“We will do the necessary, whenever the official notification reaches,” said the statement.
Baris Yarkadas, a former CHP lawmaker and journalist, criticized the court ruling to halt copying.
“What is that panic for? What is that fuss for? If only you [the court] had stopped the ones who committed crimes, instead of halting Imamoglu’s order [of copying the IBB databases],” said Yarkadas.
According to a Haberturk report, Imamoglu had also asked the IBB’s affiliated companies on Thursday to hand over the records, documenting their activities between March 31 and April 18, including financial statements, budget charts, registered and unregistered real estates.