Turkey's opposition leader quits over sex video

The veteran leader of Turkey's main secular opposition party resigned yesterday, saying he was the victim of a conspiracy following the release of a videotape on the internet purporting to show him and a woman in a bedroom.

The resignation of Deniz Baykal, a fierce critic of the ruling Islamist-leaning AK Party, comes as his Republican People's Party (CHP) has pledged to block a referendum on constitutional reforms.

Mr Baykal accused the AK Party of having knowledge of the videotape. "This kind of illegal activity carried out on the leader of the main opposition party could not have been done without the knowledge of the government," Mr Baykal said. The government of the Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, is preparing to call a referendum on constitutional reforms to overhaul the judiciary and make the army answerable to civilian courts, changes he says are needed to meet European Union entry demands. Secularist critics say the reforms are an attempt by the AK Party to seize control of the levers of state and undermine Turkey's secularist constitution.

The videotape shows a man who looks like Mr Baykal in his underwear getting dressed in a bedroom with a woman who also appears half-naked.