President Erdoğan’s son denies ‘fleeing’ claims, says he’s only in Italy for PhD thesis
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son, whose name was embroiled in Turkey’s huge corruption probe in late 2013, has denied reports that he has “fled Turkey,” saying he has only moved to Italy only to complete his doctoral studies in Bologna.
“I am in Italy only for my doctoral studies. I come to my country whenever I find the opportunity and I will continue to do so. I will return to my country when I finish my doctoral studies and, God willing, will live in my country until my last breath,” said Bilal Erdoğan.
“Only cowards run away,” he added.
Daily Cumhuriyet reported on Oct. 6 that Bilal Erdoğan had moved to Italy along with his family in order to complete his PhD title at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Europe in Bologna, Italy.
Refuting the claims, Erdoğan said he had started his PhD at the Washington campus of the John Hopkins University but continued his studies at the Bologna campus of the same university starting from 2009 as it was closer to Turkey. He said he took a break in the program in 2012 for health reasons but he returned to Bologna to finish his studies in the fall semester of the 2015-2016 academic year.
“I have been researching the Turkish and Italian economies since 1950 and the income distribution of both countries. I am conducting my work alongside my thesis advisor, who is in Bologna. I will complete my dissertation in 1.5 to 2 years and then return to Turkey,” he said.
He added that his lawyer was preparing to file a lawsuit against people who “defamed” him by claiming that he had “fled” Turkey.
Talking to daily Cumhuriyet, European and Eurasian Studies Department Director Eric Jones, where Erdoğan is conducting his PhD studies, said he was appointed as Erdoğan’s advisor, which was a “normal procedure.”
Bilal Erdoğan was among the suspects accused of bribery and corruption in the December 2013 investigations, but charges against him and the other suspects were later dropped by the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office in September 2014, citing “lack of legal ground for prosecution.”