Kemal Kilicdaroglu
Kemal KilicdarogluSpokesperson

Turkey’s opposition leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s main rival in the recent elections, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, is facing 110 years in prison as well as a ban on political activities, i24NEWS reported on Thursday, citing the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.

The report said that 28 lawsuits were filed against Kilicdaroglu, some of which were initiated by Erdogan.

“Earlier, a number of lawsuits were suspended due to the fact that Kemal Kılıçdaroglu has parliamentary immunity. Now they will be considered again since he was not elected to the new convocation,” the newspaper indicated.

It added that representatives of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party initiated a criminal case on charges against the opposition candidate of insulting the president.

The lawsuits relate to public statements made by Kilicdaroglu during the election campaign, in which he compared Erdogan to notorious political leaders of the past such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Nicolae Ceausescu.

For most lawsuits, the sentence is up to four years. Overall, the ex-presidential candidate, who won 48 percent of the vote, can face 110 years in prison.

If Kilicdaroglu is convicted, he would be banned from participating in elections and engaging in political activities.

The Turkish government has cracked down on dissent and on opponents of Erdogan in recent years. Journalists, bloggers, and ordinary people - even schoolchildren – have been taken to court on charges of insulting Erdogan and other top officials.

Examples include a 17-year-old teen who was charged with "insulting" Erdogan on Facebook, a Turkish philosophy professor who was accused of insulting Erdogan in an article in which he accused the president of corruption, and even the former Miss Turkey who was prosecuted for social media posts deemed to be critical of Erdogan.

In December of 2016, the head of a cafeteria at the Cumhuriyet newspaper was detained for insulting Erdogan after saying he would refuse to serve him tea.

Erdogan in 2015 filed a criminal complaint against the Cumhuriyet newspaper and its editor for publishing images allegedly showing trucks belonging to the state intelligence service helping send weapons to rebels in Syria.

More recently, Turkey's broadcasting watchdog launched an inquiry into six opposition TV channels for "insulting the public" with their coverage of the presidential election runoff.