Turkey’s main opposition party has submitted evidence that it says proves that leaked audio recordings implicating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family circle in a corruption scandal are genuine.
Celal Kilic, the lawyer for the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who was addressing reporters outside an Istanbul court, said: “The phone calls of Erdogan based in corruption probe are authentic. We uncovered and proved that those tapes were not fabricated.”
Kilic submitted an expert report on the audio recordings during the hearing of a case filed by Erdogan against Kilicdaroglu.
Kilic denounced Erdogan’s claim that “fabricated” records were being used in the corruption claims against him.
Turkish police arrested twenty-six people, including the sons of three cabinet ministers and dozens of others on December 17, 2013, over corruption, bribery, and bid-rigging charges.
The recordings between Erdogan and his son Bilal purportedly unrevealed a discussion between the two on the same morning of the corruption operations, about how to reduce the funds to “zero” by distributing them among several pro-Erdogan businessmen.
The voice of Bilal, at one point, supposedly says some 30 million euros ($40 million) still remained to be disposed of.
“Whatever you have in the house, get rid of it, OK?” allegedly the voice of then-prime minister Erdogan can be heard in the record.
Erdogan tells Bilal that his sister Sumeyye is on her way to help him and warns Bilal to tell other members of the family also to get rid of cash at their apartments and offices.
“It will be good if you entirely ‘zero’ it,” alleged Erdogan’s voice is heard saying in the second conversation with Bilal.
Erdogan accused the Gulen movement of hacking encrypted state communications to “montage” phone conversations suggesting he warned his son to hide large sums of money before police raids in a graft inquiry that reached the government.
He blamed the members of the movement infiltrating the critical positions in the state, including the judiciary and the security forces, and trying to topple the government.
The movement led by a US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen denied the allegations by their foe, Erdogan.
Celal Kilic claimed on Monday that the expert report he obtained proves that six leaked phone records between Erdogan and his son, and another phone call between Erdogan and a businessman were genuine.
“We proved as of today that Erdogan’s phone records were not montage but true,” he said.
Turning a blind eye to the calls by the opposition for an investigation into the corruption claims, Erdogan’s government turned the tide against himself at the end of 2013 by calling the police operations as a coup attempt.
The government dismissed the prosecutors and the police forces involved in two separate investigations that took place on December 17 and 25.
Subsequently, newly assigned judiciary officials released twenty-six corruption suspects and arrested the prosecutors and the police officers that carried out the investigations.
During the corruption probe from December 17 to December 25, the Erdogan government and several business people faced severe allegations of corruption.
Investigators detained 89 people.
Among those arrested at the time was Baris Guler, the son of the then-Interior Minister Muammer Guler; the then-Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan’s son Kaan Çaglayan, the then-Minister of Environment and Urban Planning Erdogan Bayraktar’s son Oguz Bayraktar, Halkbank former General Director Suleyman Aslan, former Head of Fatih Municipality Mustafa Demir, and Iranian businessman Reza Zarab.
Zarrab was arrested for ‘giving bribes and setting up a criminal organization,’ and Suleyman Arslan was arrested for ‘taking bribes.’ The three ministers quitted.
At the heart of the scandal was Turkey’s sale of gold to Iran that helped Iran to bypass US sanctions.
On December 25, 2013, a second operation took place, and prosecutor Muammer Akkas issued detention warrants for several people, including Tayyip Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan but failed to do so as the police forces did not carry out the instructions of the prosecutor.
The government dismissed almost six thousand officers including the security officers, police chiefs, prosecutors and judges as a part of purge over the alleged Gulen supporters that started on December 17.