Live updates, Turkey’s massive corruption scandal

As reported by Today’s Zaman:

19:24 – Swoboda says Turkey may need a new prime minister

Hannes Swoboda, president of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, has said Turkish Prime Minister is in serious trouble amid a major corruption scandal that led to resignation of three ministers.

Turkey may need a new prime minister, Swoboda tweeted on Wednesday.

17:20 – Former Interior Minister resigns from AK Party amid graft probe

 Former Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin resigned from the ruling AK Party hours after resignation of three ministers from their posts.

Ordu Deputy Şahin had disagreements with the ruling party over a number of issues and the recent corruption scandal prompted his leaving from the party, which was shaken by a series of resignations.

17:14 – Prosecutors confirm investigation launched against state railways

Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that there is an investigation into the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) regarding its alleged involvement in corruption.

17:03 – Main opposition calls on entire gov’t to resign

Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesperson Haluk Koç in a press conference on Wednesday shared his comments regarding the resignation of Turkish Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, saying the entire government should resign, accusing them all of being involved in graft.

“Bayraktar’s remark as he announced his resignation shed light on what has been going on but what I don’t understand is, why did [he] hold it back until now? Was Bayraktar experiencing a burst of rage when he said everything has been done by the order of the prime minister? We have been supporting this belief since the graft scandal first broke, that he [the prime minister] is at the center of the graft, being the main character of the corruption. He has been turning a blind eye on the corruption for 11 years, since he came to the office, not only in the recent incidents,” Koç said.

Addressing the ruling party as a whole, Koç further said: “You revealed your own dirt. Your mask has fallen. All of you are involved in the graft, so resign all together.”


16:15 – PM, President hold meeting over Cabinet reshuffle

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is having a meeting with President Abdullah Gül at Çankaya Palace. Both leaders are expected to discuss the Cabinet reshuffle.

14:35 – Turkish stocks, lira hit after minister urges Erdoğan to quit

Turkey’s main stock index fell 3 percent after one of three Turkish ministers who resigned on Wednesday over a high-level corruption scandal said Erdoğan should follow suit.

The lira weaked to 2.0855 against the dollar by 1221 GMT, from 2.0650 earlier after the minister’s remarks.

14:29 – Erdoğan says his ruling AK Party always fought against corruption

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has always fought against corruption and won’t allow the bribery to take place.

Erdoğan said during a speech before members of his party on Wednesday that the corruption operation is not a national but an international one. He said the operation is directed against the “growing AK Party.”


13:44- CHP calls on EU affairs minister to resign too

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu has called on EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış to resign following the resignations of two ministers allegedly involved in graft, saying he should have been the first to resign.

Tanrıkulu’s call for the resignation of Bağış came after two ministers — Economy Minister Zafer Cağlayan and Interior Minister Muammer Güler — submitted their resignations to the prime minister on Wednesday. Despite thinking the resignations were belated since they came days after allegations that the ministers took bribes or facilitated bribery, he said it could be deemed a positive step on behalf of the country.

“But above all, Bağış had to resign first amid the accusations targeting him considering his crucial position as the EU affairs minister. As the European Union is mostly sensitive on the concept of human rights, transparency, accountability and respect for the law, his being still in his post is a total contradiction thereby which will only be eliminated by his resignation. He shouldn’t be resuming the negotiations as he is still facing the accusations. He can’t continue to conduct the negotiations until he is in the clear,” Tanrıkulu added.

 13:27 – Environment Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar resigns

Turkey’s Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, whose son was arrested as part of the corruption investigation, has called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to resign and rejected what he called “pressure” on him.

12:27- AK Party deputy criticizes Erdoğan’s rhetoric on corruption scandal

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) İzmir deputy Ertuğrul Günay, speaking to the Hürriyet daily about comments he made on Twitter that were critical of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rhetoric on the corruption scandal, said he had been expecting a softer attitude from the prime minister following his Pakistan visit — in vain, it turned out.

Günay — who tweeted on Tuesday: “You can be convincing only if you are convinced. The rest is just words and not worth speaking about” — further criticized Erdoğan for not backing down from his harsh rhetoric on the corruption probe targeting members of the ruling party.

“The prime minister was abroad for a couple of days. I was hoping he would say things that would relieve the public and ease the tension across the country, given that he had a chance to think about things in a rational way out there, which unfortunately didn’t happen. His speech upon his return was like a summary of the remarks he made in the speech he delivered in Rize last week. No answer to the demands and expectations of the people is being given by the prime minister. No one wants another body to be formed within the government [the prime minister has accused his opponents of trying to form a ‘state within the state’], but this is just rhetoric. He didn’t say anything to dispel the doubts raised about corruption, in which the sons of ministers are allegedly involved, nor did he touch on the millions of dollars concealed in shoeboxes found in the house of the general manager [of Halkbank],” he told Hürriyet.

12:14 – Turkish opposition hails ‘overdue’ resignations of two ministers

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu commented on the resignations of the two ministers on Wednesday, after their sons were charged amid a corruption probe that has rocked Turkey, saying the resignations were belated.

Kılıçdaroğlu, in response to reporters’ questions as he left Anıtkabir– the mausoleum of Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic — where he had come to attend a commemoration ceremony for İsmet İnönü, a president in the 1960s era, said, “They should have resigned a bit earlier.”

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Muharrem İnce shared his first comment on the resignation of Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan via Twitter, writing, “The first resignation has come, not enough, but yes!” on his account.

9:30 – Two ministers resign over corruption scandal

The resignation decision came eight days after their sons were detained over corruption charges.

Economy Minister Zafer Cağlayan’s son Salih Kaan was among 24 people arrested on graft charges on Dec. 21 in a case centering on state-run lender Halkbank. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has responded by purging police investigators involved.

The Erdoğan government casts the scandal as a foreign-orchestrated effort to sow discord in Turkey, which during the premier’s three terms has flourished economically though he has been accused of authoritarianism.

“I have resigned from my post of economy minister to help the truth to come out and to foil this ugly plot, which has impacted my child and my close work colleagues, among others,” Cağlayan said in a statement.

“It is obvious that the operation carried out on Dec. 17 [the initial detentions] is a dirty set-up against our party and our government.”

Interior Minister Muammer Güler has stated that his son Barış Güler was arrested in the recent corruption investigation on charges of brokering a bribe.

Speaking to press at the Presidential Grand Award in Culture and Arts in Ankara on Tuesday, Güler said his son’s arrest is not lawful as he had not been charged with a “catalog crime,” a term that refers to crimes during whose investigation special security measures could be implemented.

“My son has not been arrested for an organized crime. He is only arrested on charges of brokering a bribe. According to a decision taken by the general assembly of the Supreme Court of Appeals, there are no legal grounds for his arrest. This is because the person [accused of brokering] has to be a public official. I am the public official [not my son],” Güler said, adding that any unofficial wiretapped telephone conversation of his is not legal evidence, referring to a wiretapped conversation with his son that went viral after the corruption investigation started last week.

The affair has reignited anti-Erdoğan sentiment among many Turks that had simmered since the unprecedented mid-2013 mass protests against his rule. It also drew an EU warning that Ankara needed to safeguard the separation of powers.

Moving to salve the domestic divisions, President Abdullah Gül pledged on Tuesday that there would be no cover-up and that the investigation would be adjudicated in independent courts.



About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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