Turkish PM's son Bilal Erdoğan testifies in graft probe

Turkish PM's son Bilal Erdoğan testifies in graft probe

Turkish PMs son Bilal Erdoğan testifies in graft probe

Lawyer Ahmet Özel told state-run Anadolu Agency Jan 23 that Erdoğan's son, Bilal, was prepared to give testimony to prosecutors but that he has not been summoned. DHA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan son, Bilal Erdoğan, testified to prosecutors probing corruption and graft allegation earlier this week, daily Hürriyet has reported. State-run Anadolu Agency reported today that Bilal Erdoğan testified on Feb. 5.

Hürriyet columnist Ertuğrul Özkök wrote on the daily’s website that he obtained the information from businessman Ali Ağaoğlu, who was detained in a graft probe launched on Dec. 17, 2013, before later being released.

“I would not have sent my own son to testify in front of those prosecutors. But the prosecutors were changed and he [Bilal Erdoğan] testified,” Özkök quoted Ağaoğlu as saying at a meeting with a limited group of journalists. 

Hürriyet’s judiciary correspondent, Toygun Atilla, confirmed the story from his own sources, Özkök said.

“Bilal Erdoğan went to the courthouse on Tuesday [Feb. 11]. He entered the building through the main door used by all citizens and was met at the courthouse by his lawyers,” the prominent columnist wrote.

Bilal Erdoğan's testimony was recieved by specially authorized Istanbul prosecutors İsmail Uçar, Fuzuli Aydoğdu, İrfan Fidan and Murat Çağlak, according to Anadolu Agency's report.

Accusations baseless: Lawyer

Bilal Erdoğan’s lawyer, Ahmet Özel, also confirmed the testimony had taken place, stressing that his client rejected all the accusations directed against him.

“The public prosecutors demanded the claims within the investigation files and my client answered them in detail. The accusations attributed to my client consist entirely of abstract allegations and interpretations,” Özel said, adding that the files contained Erdoğan’s pictures and phone recordings.

“It is perfectly clear Erdoğan has been subject to such baseless accusations due to his publically known identity, in order to launch a smear campaign with the aim of [influencing] public opinion. The aim was [to achieve] a political objective by putting my client under suspicion, but while doing it, the most basic principles of justice have been violated,” he added. 

Özel also stressed that the evidence against the prime minister’s son had been collected illegally. 
“Condemning, attempting to lynch Erdoğan in the absence of any concrete proof or accusation is an attack on the law, human values and the most basic rights and freedoms,” he said.

Istanbul prosecutors launched a massive corruption and graft operation on Dec. 17, 2013, that resulted in the resignation of four ministers from Erdoğan’s government. The government stopped another wave of the corruption operation that reportedly implicated Bilal Erdoğan. The government accused the Fethullah Gülen community, known as the Hizmet Movement, of orchestrating the operation and launched a massive struggle to liquidate its sympathizers from the civil service.

The prime minister himself had claimed after the probes that the “operation” was targeting him through the Service for Youth and Education Foundation of Turkey (TÜRGEV), a charity NGO which counts Bilal Erdoğan among its board members. He responded to the claims, saying he would “disown his children” if it was determined that they were involved in corruption.