Turkey denies Daily Telegraph claim of Iran donation to AKP
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 9/15/2010 12:00:00 AM |
Iranian and Turkish officials have vigorously denied claims by the British Daily Telegraph that Iran recently donated $25 million to Turkey's ruling party.
Iranian and Turkish officials have vigorously denied claims by the British Daily Telegraph that Iran recently donated $25 million to Turkey's ruling party ahead of next year's general election.
“This incident has never happened and those allegations in the news story have no evidence,” Ömer Çelik, vice president of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, said Tuesday in a written statement.
Çelik also threatened to sue the daily unless it corrected the story.
Iran agreed to donate $25 million to the AKP in a move that “will increase fears that Prime Minister [Recep] Tayyip Erdoğan is preparing to abandon the country's secular constitution,” Daily Telegraph reported on its website Tuesday.
“The paper’s intention is to harm the friendship and good, neighborhood relations between Turkey and Iran,” The Iranian Embassy to Ankara said Wednesday in a written denial of the allegations.
The paper “had a reputation for phony news,” the embassy said, adding that the paper was trying to taint Turkish people with “its unprofessional attitude.”
Despite the denials, author Con Coughlin defended his article Wednesday to online Turkish newspaper Gazeteport, saying the money had been transferred from the Iranian Ahl-Beit Institution to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan through the İHH, a Turkish aid organization some have accused of links with radical Islam.
“Western diplomats say they are alarmed by reports that Mr. Erdoğan has negotiated a deal with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Tehran to make a substantial contribution to the campaign funds of Turkey's leading Islamic party,” the paper said.
Under the terms of the deal, Iran agreed to transfer $12 million to the AKP, with further payments of up to $25 million to be made later in the year, the paper said.
“Apart from transferring funds to the AKP, diplomats say Iran has also agreed to provide financial support for the İHH, the Turkish Islamic charity İHH which supported last May's aid flotilla which ended in disaster when it was intercepted by Israeli commandos, which resulted in the deaths of nine activists,” Daily Telegraph said in its story.