Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan’s office said voice recordings on YouTube purportedly of Erdogan telling his son to dispose of large sums of money on the day news broke of a graft inquiry into his government were fake and “completely untrue”.
Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the audio recordings, which were posted on the video sharing site late on Monday. In the recordings, a voice supposedly of Erdogan can be heard asking his son to remove the money from his home.
The recordings are 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 30 million euros ($40 million) remain to be disposed of.
The recordings, which appeared two days after Erdogan’s AK Party officially began campaigning for local elections at the end of March, may be the latest purported revelation in a graft scandal Erdogan has cast as orchestrated to unseat him.
“The recordings, which were released via the Internet this evening, accompanied with the allegation that they were a telephone conversation between our Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son, are completely untrue and the product of an immoral montage,” Erdogan’s office said in a statement.
“Those who created this dirty conspiracy targeting the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey will be brought to account within the law,” it said.
Erdogan held an emergency meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, Interior Minister Ekfan Ala and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan after the recordings appeared, senior Turkish officials said.
The leadership of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also met and party spokesman Haluk Koc called on the government to resign.
“Turkey cannot continue on its path with this dirt, this burden,” Turkish media quoted Koc as telling reporters.
The corruption scandal, which erupted on December 17 with the detention of businessmen close to Tayyip Erdogan and the sons of three ministers, has spiralled into one of the biggest challenges of his 11-year rule.
The lira, which has been hit by the political uncertainty and fell to a record low in late January, weakened to 2.2 against the dollar in after-hours trading from around 2.1750 when Turkish markets closed on Monday.
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.
n the latest recordings leaked on Monday, two people alleged to be Erdogan and his son are heard discussing means of getting rid of large amounts of cash from their home. The conversations allegedly took place Dec. 17, the day that sons of three Cabinet ministers were detained as part of a vast corruption probe.
Media reports said Erdogan met with Turkey’s intelligence chief soon after that tape began to circulate on the Internet and that his office later issued a statement saying that the recordings were “immorally” fabricated and “totally unreal.” It said the prime minister would take legal action against the recordings.
Turkey’s main opposition party held an emergency meeting to discuss the latest leaked recording and called on Erdogan to resign, insisting that his government had lost its legitimacy.
Erdogan insists that the corruption probe which forced him in December to dismiss four Cabinet ministers is a conspiracy to discredit his government before local elections in March and a presidential election in August. He says the investigations were orchestrated by followers of a moderate Islamic movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who have allegedly infiltrated Turkey’s police and judiciary.
Last month, the leader’s 33 year-old son, Bilal Erdogan, was questioned by prosecutors investigating the allegations.
PM Erdogan’s supporters say the graft investigation was contrived by a US-based cleric with influence in the police and judiciary in a bid to unseat him ahead of elections this year. The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, has denied involvement.
The government has responded 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
Opposition calls Erdogan’s resignation
In recent days, several recordings of intercepted telephone calls were reportedly surfaced that gave corruption allegations directed at the Government new impetus. In a call to the message sender Haber Türk, for example, during the Gezi protests in the summer of 2013 Erdogan complained to a manager of the station, why will reported in a news treadmill so extensively on a opposition politician ..
Then, the message disappeared. This call Erdogan acknowledged, but showed no guilt – he had only taken action against “insults”.
The telephone recordings seem to be a popular means of opponents of the prime minister . They prove that they come from influential circles , because after all, they manage to listen to Erdogan phones. In a rage , the Prime Minister said recently , but they should quiet all the phone calls disclose it makes clear that it was a campaign .
Whether the now surfaced recordings are fakes or not, they have one way or the enormous explosive force : Are they genuine, it shows that the corruption scandal to all ranges upward , ie, that the family of the Prime Minister is involved in the matter . Is it to be counterfeit , as Erdogan claimed that it would be an indication that his opponents actually lead a campaign against him.
The opposition is already certain that it can not be a forgery. It calls for the resignation of Erdogan. He had lost all legitimacy as head of government , said the Republican People’s Party (CHP ), the largest opposition party. A CHP deputy said he was convinced that one could not imitate such conversations even cut together .