In the recording, Bilal tells his father that he met with Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan’s son-in-law, and Serhat Albayrak, Berat’s brother, to decide on the headlines of the pro-government media outlets for the coming day, and that he would wait for his confirmation from his father. “We have to do something to make them [the Hizmet movement] to pay the price so that they will know their place. This job will be finished. Something must be done until we reach the one at the top [referring to the Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the Hizmet movement],” Bilal tells his father in the recording. The prime minister then gives his son approval and says Serhat, the top manager of Sabah, Takvim and ATV media outlets, and the managers of the other media outlets must act concertedly to provide support to the government. The three aforementioned media outlets have been called the “pool media” due to allegations that the prime minister ordered a number of businessmen to create a pool of funds to acquire the media group that owns those outlets.
Bilal then mentions some examples of the headlines that they have contrived, such as Takvim’s “Vaiz Lobisi” (A lobby of preachers) and Sabah’s “Kaset Olmadı Dosya Verelim” (The tapes didn’t work, let’s provide documents). Bilal said these newspapers are taking instructions from him and that if he says so, they will start bashing the Hizmet movement. Erdoğan then signals a green light to his son, saying these newspapers should start the way Bilal suggested.
Bilal then asks his father to order the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to provide a background check on the Hizmet, such as documents or inside information about its operation or internal structure. The prime minister answers his son’s request by saying that he will take care of it. Bilal says pro-government reporters are finding some information through their own sources, but that it would be “very different” and more effective if the MİT lent a hand.
Erdoğan has occasionally lashed out at independent newspapers for running confidential information leaked by MİT, calling them “traitors,” but the leaked audio allegedly reveals that he himself ordered the intelligence agency to produce material against the Hizmet movement.
Indeed, in the first weeks following the graft probe, which became public with the detention of more than 50 people, all of whom have been released despite serious allegations and solid evidence against them, Sabah and Takvim were the forerunners of anti-Hizmet stories.
In those stories, the Hizmet movement, a voluntary movement spreading interfaith dialogue around the world, is responsible for the creation of a parallel state within the current ruling administration. All these stories were denied by Gülen, his lawyers and several Hizmet institutions, and the newspapers had to publish official admissions of libel on their pages.