Turkish PM Erdogan’s Graft Caught on Tape

“My advice to you [PM Erdogan]: Take a helicopter and flee abroad and resign. Those who rob the state cannot stay in the Prime Ministry.” Turkey’s main opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu

Audio tape recordings of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan talking with his son Bilal offer explicit revelations of deception and corruption on the same day that Istanbul prosecutors raided the homes of the PM’s ministers, cronies, and their adult children.   The recording was released on Twitter yesterday and widely available to Turkish internet users.   Anonymous blogger, Haramzadeler, published the tapes, which are believed to be copies of original recordings by Turkish law enforcement officials. (Image: turkletom)

Erdogan called his son, Bilal, four times on December 17, 2013 between 8:20 am and 11:20 pm.  In the first call, the PM alerts his son to the now famous police raids of December 17.  He states that the homes of three adult children of former Erdogan ministers are being raided and tells his son to clear out the PM’s money in Bilal’s safe.

PM (PM Erdogan):: I’m saying that Muammer’s son, Zafer’s son, Erdoğan’s son, Ali Ağaoğlu, Reza Zerrab, etc — they are searching the houses of 18 people under a big corruption operation thing.

BILAL (PM’S son): Right.

PM:  OK? Now, what I [have to] say is, you [must] take everything you have in the house out. OK?

BILAL:  What can I have on me, Dad? [I have no money of my own.] There is your money in the safe.  Today’s Zaman, Feb 26

In the same call Turkey’s leader announces that his daughter will be over soon to give Bilal information on where to hide the money.  The PM then mentions that his other son, Bilal’s older brother, will provide information as well on where to hide the money from the safe.

PM:  That’s what I am saying. Now, I am sending your sister [to you]. OK?

BILAL:  You are sending who?

PM: Your sister, I’m saying.

BILAL:  Eh? OK.

PM:  Then… She has that information, OK. Talk with your older brother.  Today’s Zaman, Feb 26

In a few short moments Erdogan implicated himself in a scheme to hide money from a presumed police search and involved his son Bilal, his daughter, and Bilal’s older brother in the conspiracy to hide evidence from the police.

It gets worse.  The PM called Bilal at 11:17 am.  Even more members of the Erdogan family are implicated in criminal activities.

BILAL: Dad, we got together with Hasan [brother], etc. Berat [brother], my uncle, we are together thinking about it [what to do.] Berat has another idea. He says let’s give some of it to Faruk [Kalyoncu] for the other “business/thing” so he can process it like the previous stuff. Shall we do it? We can dissolve a big amount with this.  Today’s Zaman, Feb 26

How much money are we talking about? 

Quite a bit.  By the forth and last call at 11:15 pm, we get an idea of how much cash Bilal and his siblings are carrying around.

BILAL: We have not zeroed it yet, Dad. Let me explain. We still have 30 million euros that we could not dissolve yet. Berat thought of something. There was an additional $25 million that Ahmet Çalık should receive. They say let’s give this [to him] there. When the money comes, we do [something], they say. And with the remaining money we can buy a flat in Şehrizar, he says. What do you say, Dad?  Today’s Zaman, Feb 26

The 30 million euros represent the left over amount from the day’s effort to conceal the money Erdogan mentioned in the 8:20 am call.  Reports indicate the amount could reach $1 billion.

The December 17 police raids shocked the Erdogan government and political opponents.  Police arrested current and former senior officials in Erdogan’s AKP party after prosecutors issued warrants.  The Istanbul chief of police refused to jail those arrested. Shortly after the raids, the prosecutors and senior police involved were fired or transferred to other locales and cases.  turkishblogger

At the time, rumors floated about Bilal Erdogan as a suspect in the corruption probe.  Police finally questioned Bilal on 2014.  These were the police hand picked to replace the December 17 prosecutors and investigators removed by Erdogan.  There were no charges brought and Bilal Erdogan remains free to this day.

Other corruption cases have been brought with more Erdogan cronies arrested.  In each case, the senior prosecutors and police investigators were fired or transferred.

Are the tapes real?

Kemal Kilicdaroglu , leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), reviewed the tapes and had them checked for authenticity prior to playing the tapes on the floor of the Turkish Parliament.   Audio experts in Istanbul were open about authenticating the tapes.  A WordPress blogger provided an audio engineering analysis of the tapes to show authenticity.  Most telling, Today’s Zaman reported that five government officials in charge of “cryptographic phones,” the type used by Erdogan, were fired implying that there were actual breaches of security allowing Erdogan to be taped.

Erdogan and Turkey’s Minister of Science, Industry and Technology both claimed that the tapes were a fraud with out reference to supporting evidence.

In a sign of where this is all going politically, the head of the Kurdish party in Parliament, the BDP, said:

“The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey [TUBITAK] is right next to Parliament. The prime minister and his son could give their voice samples and in 20 minutes it can be verified whether those voices belong to them or not.”  Selahattin Demirtas, Hurriyet Daily News, Feb 25

Neither the Prime Minister nor his son Bilal has offered up voice samples.

Erdogan’s AKP passed to pieces of legislation recently to stop the use of the Internet and the judiciary in ways that might interfere with his power.  The Internet bill allows the government to take down any material perceived to be subversive within four hours of publication.  The judiciary bill gives the prime minister control of the selection of judges and the assignment of cases.

The prosecutor and police firings and transfers, the Internet bill, and ending an independent judiciary may all be too late for beleaguered Prime Minister Erdogan.  The audio recordings released by pseudonymous blogger Haramzadeler may be all it takes to topple the seemingly invincible Prime Minister Erdogan.

END

For ongoing coverage of this scandal see Turkish news sources published at great risk to publishers, editors and reporters:  Hurriyet Daily News and Today’s Zaman.

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