Turkish main opposite leader to present new evidence on PM’s audio leaks

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said he will present a report recently issued by a UK-based audio forensic company, which suggests phone conversations between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son, Bilal Erdoğan, do not indicate any tampering, to a court soon.

The CHP leader, while speaking to the Cumhuriyet daily on Monday, recalled that Prime Minister Erdoğan sued him for playing the phone conversations during his party’s meeting in Parliament in March. The prime minister, who claims that his privacy was violated, is demanding TL 100,000 from Kılıçdaroğlu in damages. Kılıçdaroğlu, in response, said he will present a court in the days to come the report of the Audio Forensic Services, a UK-based company that brings together professional experts in audio forensics, so that Turkish people will learn the reality about the prime minister’s phone conversations.

The audio forensic company examined the phone conversations allegedly between the prime minister and his son in March upon the request of the Demokrasi Denetçileri Derneği (Democracy Auditors’ Association). The company issued a report on its findings on March 27. In the report, obtained by Today’s Zaman, the company stated that all tracks were inspected and listened to for sound quality before performing any analysis procedures. “The actual individual voice recordings, or audio tracks, of the speakers themselves indicate no signs of tampering or rearrangement,” stated the company.

The company also noted that the overall recording presentation on a production level indicates that a person has arranged the individual tracks in a sequential sequence for possible presentation purposes.

The voice recordings allegedly belonging to Erdoğan and his son were leaked on the Internet on the evening of Feb. 24. In the recorded phone conversations, Erdoğan is heard instructing his son, Bilal, to dispose of vast amounts of cash on Dec. 17, 2013, amid an ongoing corruption operation. The conversations came at a time when police raided a number of locations as part of the operation that implicated the sons of three former ministers as well as business executives and the chief of a state-run bank. In one of the recordings, Erdoğan asked Bilal to “zero” the money in their house.

The voice recording sent shockwaves throughout the country, with opposition parties calling on the government to resign.

Erdoğan rejected claims that the recordings are genuine in a written statement and later at public rallies, claiming that they had been “dubbed” and edited. In the speeches, however, he acknowledged that his encrypted phones had been tapped, which has been perceived as a confession that the conversations actually occurred.

Kılıçdaroğlu also told Cumhuriyet that he does not find a report by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), stating that the voice recordings between Erdoğan and his son were dubbed, convincing. In addition, he said CHP deputy Umut Oran recently traveled to Denmark to hold contacts with some political figures there. “When Oran [reportedly] complained that members of the ruling Justice and Development Party [AK Party] decline to respond to parliamentary questions on corruption claims on the grounds of privacy, the EU’s justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, [reportedly] said deputies, ministers and prime ministers have no privacy. She also said those officials have to be accountable and transparent on every issue,” the CHP leader added.

In their report, the Audio Forensic Services forensic experts also said recorded consistent utterances of the said male speakers, in reference to Prime Minister Erdoğan and his son, Bilal, were listened to on each recording and single repeated utterances were extracted from each recording through the use of a lab software. The experts also said they carried out their work objectively and impartially. All the procedures, findings and the report were fully quality-control checked by other colleagues, according to the experts.

Deputies want to see TÜBİTAK report

An independent deputy has recently asked TÜBİTAK to give them copies of its report that the voice recordings between Prime Minister Erdoğan and his son, Bilal, are dubbed. The scientific council has not responded to the deputy yet.

Independent deputy İdris Bal, who resigned from the AK Party in November of last year, was the first to request a copy of the TÜBİTAK report. In addition, some deputies from the CHP have announced that they will follow Bal in the coming days.

After the voice recordings were disseminated on social media, Erdoğan filed a criminal complaint with the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutor Durak Çetin, who has been investigating the case, asked TÜBİTAK to prepare an expert’s report to determine the authenticity of the recordings.

In early June, TÜBİTAK claimed that the recordings were dubbed as they had been prepared by combining syllables used by Erdoğan and Bilal. Forensic experts strongly criticized the report. TÜBİTAK did not share the details from the report with the public and the media.

Bal recently applied to TÜBİTAK, asking the council to provide him with a copy of its report. He is currently awaiting a response from TÜBİTAK. Speaking to the press, the deputy said he is wondering what is written in the report. “I wonder what arguments and technical methods the council used to reach a conclusion that the said voice recordings are dubbed,” he stated.

According to Bal, TÜBİTAK should make a detailed statement about its findings of the wiretapped conversations between the prime minister and his son and share its report with the media. “People have the right to learn about the [content of] the report. In addition, TÜBİTAK must send its report for objective and independent bodies for an overview and evaluation. This report is of vital importance as its content [of voice recordings] directly concerns the prime minister,” noted the deputy. He also said the government should go after it if the voice recordings are really dubbed. “If the recordings are dubbed, then we may talk about a weakness of intelligence. The government should examine this possibility, too,” Bal added.

New documents about TÜRGEV coming

CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu, in addition, spoke to Cumhuriyet about a lawsuit filed recently against him by the Foundation of Youth and Education in Turkey (TÜRGEV), of which Prime Minister Erdoğan’s son Bilal is an executive board member. The foundation demands that Kılıçdaroğlu pay it TL 100,000 compensation in damages on the grounds that the CHP leader insulted TÜRGEV on various occasions.

The CHP leader said he is neither frightened nor discouraged by the suit. “They [TÜRGEV] filed a heavy compensation suit so as to make us afraid. They want to discourage us from speaking [about corruption claims] thanks to such suits. They want to place us under pressure,” he noted, adding that TÜRGEV will not achieve what it wants.

“On the contrary, I am happy. We have things to say about TÜRGEV, too. We will say all those things and our people will learn the games [corruption] played by TÜRGEV,” Kılıçdaroğlu stated. He also noted that he will prove the corruption the foundation is involved in with new documents.

TÜRGEV is at the center of bribery allegations against the AK Party government. The foundation appears, according to leaked audio recordings, to be a platform through which business people, allegedly in return for public tenders they are awarded, “willingly” donate sizable amounts of money to the foundation.

In April, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç confirmed claims that TÜRGEV had received a donation of almost $100 million from abroad, though he declined to reveal where this money came from.

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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