Turkish opposition calls for Erdoğan’s resignation

During his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu played a leaked voice recording allegedly of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son Bilal.
In the new voice recording published online on Monday night an alleged discussion is heard between the prime minister and his son on their plan to hide $1 billion cash stashed at several houses.

Kılıçdaroğlu labelled Erdoğan the “prime liar” and “prime thief” in his harsh speech during the group meeting.

In the recording, Erdoğan and his son Bilal allegedly discuss during five wiretapped phone conversations on plans how to hide huge sums of cash on the day when police raided a number of locations as part of a corruption investigation that has implicated sons of three Turkish ministers, businessmen and the chief of a state bank.

The voice recording is the latest in a series of leaked phone conversations of embattled Erdoğan, who has portrayed a graft investigation that erupted on Dec. 17 involving ministers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) as a plot to overthrow his government.

In the voice recording, posted on YouTube late on Monday, Erdoğan seems to be warning his son Bilal about cash stashed in several houses. It was not possible to decipher from conversations how much money is involved or in how many houses, but an introductory note at the beginning of the video says the plan involves at least $1 billion cash stashed in five houses.

The conversation allegedly took place on Dec. 17, when prosecutors ordered police to raid dozens of addresses to collect evidence. Dozens of suspects were arrested, including an Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab and the chief of state bank Halkbank, Süleyman Aslan. Some of the suspects were later released.

At the beginning of the phone conversation, the prime minister apparently briefs his son Bilal about the raid and asks him to “zero” the amount stashed at houses of several people.

In the second phone conversation, Bilal Erdoğan is apparently heard telling his father that they decided to distribute money to several businessmen whom they owe and “melt” a significant part of it by paying for different projects. Some of the businessmen mentioned during the phone conversations include Faruk Kalyoncu and Mehmet Gür. Erdoğan reportedly approves their plan and reiterates that it is “better if they completely zero the money.”

CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu, after assessing the wiretapped phone conversations allegedly of the prime minister and his son posted on the Internet late on Monday, commented on the discussions over whether the recording in question was fabricated or setup and reportedly said: “This voice recording can’t be a montage. The prime minister says [in the recording] he is also under surveillance. There must be visuals that show money transfers, and will be revealed soon.”

CHP members, during an emergency meeting of the CHP Central Executive Board (MYK) late on Monday, discussed the controversial voice recording in which Erdoğan seems to be warning his son Bilal about cash money stashed in several houses.

Erdoğan and his son Bilal allegedly discuss during five wiretapped phone conversations how to hide huge sums of cash on the day when police raided a number of locations as part of a corruption investigation that has implicated sons of three Turkish ministers, businessmen and the chief of a state bank.

The Prime Ministry released a forceful statement late on Monday, claiming that the voice recording is a “montage” and is “completely false.” The Prime Ministry vowed in the statement to sue those who orchestrated this “dirty plot.”

Meanwhile, some circles, in an effort to disprove the authenticity of the voice recording, said that these calls “could not have been made” on the day the phone conversations allegedly took place given that Erdoğan was in Konya on Dec. 17 to attend a inauguration ceremony. Yet, the CHP, after matching the specific times when the phone calls were allegedly to have been made and the sequence of events of Erdoğan’s visit to Konya, said it was possible for him to have made the calls.

The CHP further called on Erdoğan to resign following what they said was a “scandal” and said the government lost its legitimacy from “this hour” and that Turkey cannot move forward with this “dirt.”

At the meeting, the possibility of early elections was raised by considered unlikely. Instead, the party resolved that the prime minister cannot run the country anymore and that someone else form the party should take over Erdoğan’s duty.

Mustafa Sarıgül, CHP candidate to run for the mayoralty in İstanbul in the local elections, also commented on the voice recording in question, saying: “Money is some people’s test in this life. I never wish for money that I haven’t earned. God tests you sometimes by granting you a rank and giving you money. But these mean nothing unless you are a man.” 

 

Erdoğan met with Turkey’s intelligence chief shortly after voice recordings of two people – alleged to be Erdoğan and his son – discussing means of getting rid of large amounts of money from a home, circulated on the Internet. A statement issued by Erdoğan’s office later said the tapes were immorally fabricated and that legal action would be taken against the perpetrators. 

Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Action Party, on Tuesday called the recordings “mind-blowing” and urged prosecutors and other judicial bodies to intervene. 

He said Erdoğan should “not even think about” escaping blame by claiming the tapes were edited. 

Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, held an emergency meeting late on Monday and called on Erdoğan to resign, saying the government had lost its legitimacy. 

“Turkey cannot carry on with this blemish and this burden,” senior party official Haluk Koç said. 

The Associated Press cannot authenticate the audio recordings which reportedly took place on Dec. 17, as three Cabinet ministers’ sons were detained in the police corruption and bribery probe. 

Erdoğan insists that the corruption probe targeting people close to him is a conspiracy against his government before local elections in March and a presidential election in August. 

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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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