Who is the family of President Erdoğan’s son-in-law?
I’ve known Özdemir Bayraktar, the father of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law, for seven or eight years. Some acquaintances introduced me to Özdemir Bayraktar. I was told he was producing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This was going to be a first in Turkey. He had three sons. I was told the one in the middle had a master’s degree from the U.S. in UAVs.
They said he was an intelligent, warm, honest and genuine engineer. Indeed, we later became friends; he liked me, I liked him.
This could have been a huge opportunity for a journalist. At one stage a parliamentarian told me, “It is time to make Bayraktar’s joint project with the Çan group public.” But another acquaintance objected, saying, “No, the family’s life could be at stake as Israel could find it dangerous from its point of view. There is a spying risk…”
At one stage I convinced Bayraktar. I wrote about it without exaggerating or jeopardizing the family, nor Turkey.
After the appearance of my article, journalists started to chase him. At one stage I visited the grounds. I don’t forget him saying, “Even in the [United] States a project like that is being developed only now.”
One day Mr. Bayraktar said he would enter into a company with foreign links to a bid opened by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). He said they would compete in front of a military delegation during test flights.
But they disliked the attitude of one member in the procurement commission. Mr. Bayraktar and his son were very sad. They were suspicious of certain things but they did not want me to write about it. They thought this project of theirs would be very useful for Turkey in terms of the war in Iraq at that time.
The premises were inside the Başakşehir organized industrial zone. Several drones were prepared to go to the southeast. There were preparations for bigger ones. I was surprised when I saw their offices. I asked Şelçuk Bayraktar about all the young people working there. “They are preparing the software,” he told me. Most of them were graduates of Boğaziçi University.
“These are national programs. There is nothing foreign, all is national made,” said Bayraktar, with his eyes shining.
The walls of the premises were full of photographs picturing father and son together with military officials in the southeast. These were high-level commanders and most had not gone to jail yet, at that time.
I know that father and son have had to endure difficult days, spending eight months when necessary in places like the southeastern province of Şırnak.
Erdoğan was the prime minister at that time.
I asked him if he was positively discriminated.
He reacted by saying no. “I have done politics with Tayyip bey [Erdoğan] inside the Welfare Party. When he became the mayor of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, I was at the head of the Welfare Party’s organizations. “
Erdoğan has a relationship with Mr. Bayraktar that goes beyond family ties; actually, a relationship that rather comes from politics.
Bayraktar is actually a pupil of Necmettin Erbakan (the late leader of the Islamist National Salvation Party) from Istanbul University’s mechanical engineering department. Bayraktar first entered the business world through production in the sub-automotive industry.