Ex-police chief says Erdoğan helped ‘terror financier’ al-Qadi enter Turkey

A Saudi businessman listed as a terror financier by international organizations entered Turkey with the help of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan several times even though he had been banned by the Cabinet from entering the country, according to former İstanbul Police Department Financial Crimes Unit head Yakup Saygılı.

Here is the report by Today’s Zaman:

Saygılı was detained along with 32 other police officers on Aug. 1 as part of a widening campaign backed by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against the police force. The officers had carried out the major corruption and bribery operations of Dec. 17 and 25 of last year.


Details from Saygılı’s testimony to the police were leaked to the media on Tuesday. Today’s Zaman has learned that the former police chief told the police that Yasin al-Qadi, a Saudi businessman who is on the US Treasury Department’s “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” list, entered Turkey a couple of years ago thanks to Erdoğan’s security guards. Erdoğan was prime minister at the time.


According to Saygılı, Qadi could not have entered Turkey without the help and influence of Erdoğan.


In addition, Saygılı said, Qadi was provided with a false passport to enter Turkey and a villa to use during his stay in the country. “The title of prime minister does not give anyone the right to commit crimes or provide protection to a person whose entry into the country is banned,” the former police chief told the police.


He said that ‘five crimes were committed in this case’.


Saygılı said that Qadi was being monitored by the Turkish police at the time as he was considered a criminal.


According to Saygılı, on one occasion Erdoğan met with Qadi at the Haliç Congress Center in İstanbul. The meeting allegedly took place in 2012 when Qadi was forbidden from entering Turkey. This was also before the UN had removed his name from its list of supporters of the terrorist al-Qaeda network. Saygılı said the meeting was also attended by National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.


Also in his testimony to the police, Saygılı said that MİT closely followed the prime suspects in the major corruption investigations of Dec. 17 and 25, 2013. He also said the spying organization submitted a report to Erdoğan about its findings on the corruption suspects. The report was leaked to the media, Saygılı noted.


The report made its way to the national media in early January.


According to news stories, MİT sent a report to Erdoğan in early 2013 warning him about suspicious relationships between some Turkish ministers and Reza Zarrab, an Iranian businessman living in Turkey who was briefly arrested after the Dec. 17 corruption operation.

In its report, MİT told Erdoğan that Zarrab had “close relations” with then-Ministers Muammer Güler and Zafer Çağlayan. Both ministers resigned in late December of last year after their sons were arrested as part of the corruption investigation. Claims have emerged that the former ministers were involved in corruption and bribery.


The MİT report also stated that Zarrab had met several times with Güler and Çağlayan to ask them for help in obtaining Turkish citizenship for his brother, Mohammed Zarrab. Zarrab’s brother, as well as his father and sister-in-law, were granted Turkish citizenship in an unusually short period of time.


Turkish citizenship can be acquired after an applicant has lived in Turkey for at least five years. Applicants can also acquire Turkish citizenship in exceptional circumstances if they are nominated by the Interior Ministry or subject to a decree by the Cabinet.


In exchange for their help, the businessman reportedly took the two former ministers on an umrah — a visit to Mecca that is similar to the hajj pilgrimage — and paid their expenses while there. Additionally, Zarrab agreed to employ Güler’s son Barış Güler as an adviser and to pay him a monthly salary of $15,000, according to the same report.


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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