News / Middle East

Turkey's PM Calls Recordings 'Treacherous Attack'

FILE - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a news briefing.
FILE - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a news briefing.
Reuters
— Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused political rivals of shameless fabrication of a telephone tap of him telling his son to dispose of large sums of money on the day police raided houses in a graft inquiry into his government.
 
In a dramatic session of parliament after posting of the 11-minute audio tape on YouTube, Erdogan said his political enemies had penetrated encrypted state communications. He did not name the opponents but made it clear he was talking of a network run by former ally, Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
 
Supporters of Erdogan, locked in a power struggle with Gulen whom he accuses of contriving a graft scandal to topple him, shouted “Tayyip, we came here to die with you”, “stand tall, don't bow” and “time is on our side”.
 
“The people don't believe these lies,” Erdogan called back to loud cheers and applause from the public gallery.
 
Growing political uncertainty around the government and its reaction to the tapes, which Reuters could not authenticate, hit Turkish assets amid broader weakness in emerging markets.
 
Opinion polls taken before Monday's posting show Erdogan's popularity little affected by the corruption scandal which broke on Dec. 17 with the detention of businessmen close to him and three ministers' sons. Monday's tape will prove a further test of that resilience ahead of March local elections.
 
“They went and made a shameless montage and released it. If you're going to make it up, there is a moral and decent way of making things up,” Erdogan said. “They are even listening to the state's encrypted telephones. That's how low they are.”
 
“There is no allegation that we cannot answer.”
 
The “they” cited by Erdogan was a clear reference to those among the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Gulen he accuses of building a “parallel state” in Turkey, using power in the judiciary and police to undermine him.
 
“We will reveal one-by-one all the disgraces of the parallel organization and we will make those who walk with them so embarrassed they won't be able to go out into the street,” Erdogan said.
 
The recording is purportedly of Erdogan and his son Bilal discussing how to reduce the funds to “zero” by distributing them among several businessmen. At one point, the voice supposedly of Bilal says some 30 million euros ($40 million) remain to be disposed of.
 
Government officials said previous such recordings may have been of ministers and businessmen's voices but that the conversations were put together from comments taken out of context to give the impression of impropriety.
 
“They have wiretapped the Prime Minister, they have wiretapped the chief of intelligence, Ministers, many others. They wiretap the phone for 18 months, they listen to you, and then out of the 18 months of wiretapping they take two or three sentences,” said one senior official.
 
“Can you imagine the stories you can write out of those two or three sentences, with no context, no background?”
 
Economic impact

 
Gulen's Hizmet (Service) organization, which runs a wide network of schools, businesses and media groups, exercises strong influence in the police and judiciary. The cleric denies government accusations it drew on this network to undermine Erdogan after a political falling out between the two men.
 
Erdogan remains far and away Turkey's most popular politician. But the apparent power struggle with Gulen and his purges of the police and judiciary have cast a shadow over what Western powers long vaunted as a prime example of an effective Islamic democracy.
 
Faruk Logoglu, former ambassador to Washington and vice chairman of the main opposition CHP, said he believed there was no question about the authenticity of the recordings, which his party replayed to its deputies at a parliamentary group meeting.
 
“Saying it is fake doesn't mean it didn't take place. What else can he say?.. In a minimally functioning democracy the first thing the prime minister has to do is resign," he said. “He is clinging on to power and that's the problem.  This is probably the tip of the iceberg.”
 
The recordings appeared two days after Erdogan's AK Party officially began campaigning for March local elections that will be followed later in the year by presidential polls that could decide Erdogan's political future after 11 years in power.
 
The government has responded to the graft inquiry by dismissing or reassigning thousands of police officers, tightening its control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors, and pushing through a new law that allows the authorities to block access to websites within hours without a prior court order.
 
Erdogan, as in the past, suggested a broader conspiracy against Turkey including The “interest rate lobby” of financiers and “the terror lobby”.
 
“The lobby of those who couldn't win the people's support, the mob of losers came together once more on Dec. 17. Now they are saying 'we are going to rule Turkey'.”
 
The growing political uncertainty hit financial markets.
 
The lira hit two-week lows against the dollar while stocks fell three percent.
 
Timothy Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank, said Erdogan was likely to go further on the offensive against those he deems responsible for producing and leaking these tapes.
 
“This seems to be a battle to the end/death. The Gulenists seem to want to wound Erdogan below the waterline to undermine the AK Party's poll performance in March,” Ash wrote in a note.
 
Social media and video-sharing sites have been awash with leaked recordings presented as evidence of wrongdoing. As with the latest recordings, Reuters has been unable to verify their authenticity.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in public More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid