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Erdogan phone tapped conversation heard in Turkish parliament

26 February 2014

The Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has dubbed Prime Minister Erdogan a “prime liar” and “prime thief”.

The CHP leader played a tape in parliament on Tuesday, which is alleged to be a recording of PM Erdogan in conversation with his son Bilal.

The startling recording which was available online on Monday contains an alleged conversation between the prime minister and his son about to hide $1 billion cashed stored in a number of houses.

In the recording, Erdogan and his son Bilal allegedly discuss, during five wiretapped phone conversations, how to hide huge sums of cash on the same day that 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 recording is the latest in a series of leaked phone conversations of the beleaguered prime minister. Since the eruption of the corruption investigation on 17th December 2013, Erdogan has pointed a finger at a “parallel state” and a plot to discredit and overthrow his government.

In the voice recording, posted on YouTube late on Monday, Erdogan seems to be warning his son Bilal about cash hidden in a number of 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 secreted in five houses.

The conversation allegedly took place on 17th December, 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, Suleyman 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 hidden at houses of several people.

In the second phone conversation, Bilal Erdogan 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 Gur. Erdogan reportedly approves their plan and reiterates that it is “better if they completely zero the money.”

In response to the accusations made on Tuesday, a defiant and defensive Erdogan blamed the political upheaval in Turkey on a variety of conspiracies – an “interest rate lobby”, a “robot lobby”, referring to government critics on social media; a “media lobby” an “international lobby”, a “media lobby”, a “war lobby”,  and a “preacher’s lobby” in reference to his former ally, the religious cleric, Fethullah Gulen.

Erdogan said: “I was making calls for weeks. I said: Publish everything you have, disclose whatever you’ve got. And they go and make an immoral montage and publish it. But even fabricating has morals and decency,” adding that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would use the same technology and publish similar tapes featuring opposition leaders.

Later on Tuesday, the Ankara’s prosecutors office said it was looking into whether the recording had been edited or was the product of an illegal phone bugging.

However,  Erdogan’s political enemies said they considered the recording genuine and that the crisis would only escalate with more revelations ahead of the March vote.

 

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