Turkish PM dismisses rumors he has only two years to live

Turkish PM dismisses rumors he has only two years to live

ANKARA - Agence France- Presse
Turkish PM dismisses rumors he has only two years to live

A file photo taken on February 23, 2011 shows Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan listening to a question during an interview with AFP in Ankara. AFP Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today dismissed as "impudent" rumors about his health based on an email released by WikiLeaks claiming that he had only two years to live.

"Allah is the owner of our soul," Erdoğan told a meeting of his ruling AKP party in Ankara. "It is Allah and only Allah who will decide how long I will live."

The prime minister, who turned 58 a few weeks ago, has undergone two successive operations on his intestinal system, one on November 26 last year and the second on February 10. A long period of convalescence after the first operation has prevented Erdoğan from traveling overseas, while leading many to speculate on his state of health.

But Erdoğan has repeatedly said that the surgeons had taken out polyps from his intestines and there had been no trace of cancer. A recent batch of emails released by the whistle-blowing website however includes a purported exchange between two colleagues at US intelligence company Stratfor dated December 10, 2011. The email said to be based on information from an "old classmate friend" of the lead surgeon on Erdogan's surgery alleged the Turkish prime minister has colon cancer.

The email said doctors had cut out 20 centimetres (eight inches) of Erdoğan's colon during the first surgery on November 26, describing it as a "really significant operation" and noting that Erdogan would not be able to travel for a while.

"The prognosis is not looking good, though. The surgeon said they were estimating two years for him," the email added, according to the WikiLeaks release.

Erdoğan heads the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been in government since 2002. He has returned to his busy agenda after a long period of rest and chaired the cabinet meeting Monday after a break of almost a month.
The prime minister is also expected to restart official trips abroad, visiting Iran on March 28, after attending an international nuclear security summit in South Korea on March 26 and 27, according to an aide from his office.