Erdogan admits recording with son features his voice

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has publicly admitted that a leaked voice recording that had been alleged to be a conversation between Erdogan and his son is authentic.

Speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, the prime minister lashed out at the so-called “parallel structure,” a group which he claims is trying to undermine his government. Erdogan has accused the Hizmet movement of being behind the parallel structure. Speaking of his enemies, he said: “They couldn’t find what they wanted about me. They could only release my conversations with my ministers. They could release only my conversations with my wife and son,” appearing to admit for the first time that a conversation between him and his son Bilal, in which Erdogan ordered Bilal to dispose of vast amounts of cash stashed in the family home, indeed took place.

Erdogan had earlier claimed that the voice recording was not authentic. He had said that the recording was the product of splicing together different recordings.

Speaking at his party’s meeting on Tuesday, Erdogan added that those who released the recordings also have recordings of President Abdullah Gul and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Ozel.

The prime minister reacted angrily to those who ask whether he has any proof that the Hizmet movement was indeed behind the recordings, which were acquired from wiretapped phone lines. He said, “You [the Hizmet movement] wiretap the prime minister of this country, the foreign affairs minister and the ministers and then shamelessly demand documentation?” He further accused the Hizmet movement of having “lost direction,” and of having violated people’s privacy. He said the 45.5 percent of the public who voted for him told him that they do not believe the corruption allegations against his government and want him to punish those who leveled the accusations against him.

The recording that Erdogan referred to as a “conversation with my son” allegedly dates from Dec. 17, 2013, the day the major corruption operation was made public. In the voice recording, a voice alleged to be Erdogan’s is heard telling his son — during five wiretapped phone calls — to dispose of large sums of money hidden in several relatives’ homes on the day police raided a number of locations as part of the operation. The operation has implicated the sons of three former ministers, well-known businessmen and the general manager of a state-owned bank.

At the beginning of the recorded conversations, allegedly held over an encrypted line, the prime minister briefs his son Bilal about the operation and asks him to “zero” the money by distributing it among several businessmen. An introductory note at the beginning of the recording says the plan involved at least $1 billion in cash which was relocated in five hours.

Prior to the March 30 elections, a number of voice recordings that allegedly serve as evidence of the allegations behind the Dec. 17, 2013 graft operation were posted online via Twitter. Many believe the real reason for Turkey’s Twitter ban, which came on March 21, was the leaked recordings that indicated corruption in the government, although the government said the reason was Twitter’s refusal to open an office in Turkey.

Another popular website, YouTube, still remains banned in Turkey over another leaked recording. The Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) blocked access to YouTube on March 27, hours after the uploading of a leaked voice recording allegedly featuring the voices of Turkey’s foreign minister, intelligence chief and a top army general discussing developments in neighboring Syria.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN