CHP leader touches raw nerve: Turkish PM aware of authenticity of audio recordings
DHA PhotoMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has been constantly focusing on corruption and bribery allegations against the government in an apparent bid to push Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government into the corner, with days to go until Turkey’s local elections on March 30.
Ahead of addressing a rally in the central Anatolian province of Kırıkkale on March 24, Kılıçdaroğlu began by playing two separate recordings, one of which alleged to have been a conversation between Prime Minister Erdoğan and his son Bilal, and the other alleged to have been a conversation between former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and his son Barış.
“When you are going to the ballot boxes, listen to your conscience. For the first time in the country, along the history of the Republic, we have witnessed how a government has robbed a state,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to huge corruption and bribery allegations involving the government, which became public after revealing a huge investigation in mid-December.
“In which country does a prime minister’s son have 30 million euros in his house?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked.
One of the many audio recordings released online since the launch of the investigation allegedly showed Erdoğan talking with his son about hiding vast sums of money and interfering with court cases, business deals and media coverage.
Erdoğan has dismissed the recordings as “vile” fakes concocted by his political rivals, including U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, once a staunch ally.
“He [Erdoğan] says ‘all of these are fake; are montages.’ I’m saying this as the leader of the main opposition party: If they are montages and you can prove it, then we would all struggle together.
Nobody should slander the prime minister of a country,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, recalling that he urged Erdoğan to release recordings from the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) in order to prove the online recordings are not authentic.
“I have repeatedly delivered calls. He doesn’t release [TİB recordings]. Why? Because all of them are true. I know it, and he knows it too,” Kılıçdaroğlu, who once said the tapes were as “Real as Mount Ararat,” said.
As the March 30 vote nears, audio tapes of telephone conversations have appeared on websites almost daily, purporting to expose corruption around Erdoğan.
The authenticity of the recordings cannot be verified. Former Interior Minister Güler, former Economy Minister Zafer Cağlayan and former Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar each saw a son detained on Dec. 17, 2013 as part of the corruption and graft probe. All three resigned just over a week later. Former EU Minister Egemen Bağış was replaced in a reshuffle.
The former ministers have denied any wrongdoing.