Turkey president to sue over 'golden toilet' claim

The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pictured at the foot of a staircase at the Ak Saray residence Image copyright EPA
Image caption The palace has more than 1,000 rooms and is bigger than the White House

The Turkish president is to sue the leader of the main opposition party for slander over claims his presidential palace has gold-plated toilet seats.

Lawyers for Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Republican People's Party chief, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, had made "baseless allegations", state media reported.

Mr Kilicdaroglu has said his remarks were intended as a general criticism of officials' lavish lifestyles.

The palace has been criticised for its £400m ($615m) building costs.

Mr Erdogan previously invited Mr Kilicdaroglu to inspect the building, saying he would resign if a golden toilet was found.

His lawyers have extended the invite to Turkish courts, saying "we require an on-site inspection to determine that he [Kilicdaroglu] has lied".

With general elections due Sunday, Mr Kilicdaroglu has persistently attacked Mr Erdogan for excessive spending.

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Media captionThe mansion was built on 150,000sq m of forested hilltop in Ankara

"Gentlemen in Ankara, palaces have been built for you, planes bought, Mercedes cars purchased... golden seats have been bought, that's how you use the toilet," he told supporters at a rally.

He later sought to clarify the remarks, telling CNN Turk: "I did not claim there is this or that in the palace. I clearly stated 'If they are making gold-plated toilet seats in this country, someone has to think about that.' It seems this gentleman [Erdogan] took it personally."

The media freedom group the Committee to Protect Journalists has meanwhile called on Mr Erdogan of to stop "bullying" journalists after he accused a newspaper editor of "espionage".

The Turkish president said Cumhuriyet's chief editor, Can Dundar, would pay a "heavy price" for printing images the newspaper says proves Turkey has sent arms to Syrian rebels, something Ankara denies.

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