The videos on YouTube by a Turkish criminal are embarrassing the dictator Erdogan
Sedat Peker, a member of the Turkish organized crime, fugitive and with known political connections, has published online some videos accusing members of the Turkish government, all allies and members of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan family, of serious crimes, and describes the power struggles and internal rivalries within the Turkish regime.
The allegations are very serious ranging from murder to corruption to money laundering. Peker’s videos of accusations (of which there are nine so far, all posted on his YouTube channel) have had tremendous success in Turkey: they have been viewed millions of times each and have sparked a great debate on social media, which has helped to amplify his message.
Turkish politics in recent decades has been very turbulent, there have been coup attempts, secret societies that have interfered with the functioning of the state, and well-known members of organized crime, such as Peker, who have become an active part of the political debate. For this reason, for many Turkish citizens, Peker’s accusations, however serious and unproven, are, if not credible, at least familiar.Peker’s long videos are full of veiled threats and allusions: they are fixed-shot, with him sitting at a desk, but the objects on the desk change every time, which has led Turkish users to wonder if it could be a coded message, or rathera joke.
In the first video, for example, Peker has on his desk in plain sight the book Omertà by Mario Puzo, the author of The Godfather among other things. In the last video released, the sixth, his desk is full of objects (two glasses of water, a book on Turkish history, five paper bags, an Islamic rosary, various other documents): evidently, Peker has taken a liking to them.Peker’s allegations focus on former government members or their family members.
In the first videos he makes very serious accusations against Mehmet Ağar, a former Minister of Justice and the Interior in the 1990s and still an influential figure in Turkish politics, and his son Tolga, currently a parliamentary member of the AKP. According to Peker, Tolga allegedly raped and killed a young journalist from Kazakhstan, Yeldana Kahraman, in 2019, and with the help of her father and the police force, she allegedly made the crime a suicide. Peker also accuses Mehmet Ağar of being one of the leaders of a secret organization involved in numerous political crimes of the 1990s, as well as drug trafficking and other crimes.
However, one of the most recurring themes of Peker’s videos is the fact that the AKP leadership would have betrayed him, starting investigations against him and against his affairs that forced him to leave Turkey.In this context, Peker’s main target is Suleyman Soylu, the current Minister of the Interior, one of Turkey’s most powerful politicians, regarded as a possible successor to Erdoğan. Peker argues that he and Soylu collaborated in handling numerous dirty cases, that the Interior Ministry provided him with a personal escort, and that through Soylu and others he handled numerous complicated and unpleasant situations through illegal means. ‘AKP. For example, he claims to have had a member of Parliament beaten to death for insulting Erdoğan’s family and to have done so inside a police station.
The accusations are numerous, and Peker also quotes Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan’s son-in-law and former finance minister, arguing that there was a good relationship between them that would have been ruined by Soylu’s plots. Peker claims he has the documentation to prove most of his allegations about him, and Turkish opposition newspapers have helped to confirm some fringe parts of his account, such as his connections to the political class.
In general, however, he cannot be considered a reliable or even impartial witness, and most of the accusations, especially the most serious such as those of rape and murder, are unproven and have not led to the opening of new investigations, and therefore, for now, they fall mostly within the scope of slander.Many of Peker’s tales, however, are based on gossip and conspiracy theories that have been circulating in Turkey for some time, and for this, they have had great resonance across and outside the Country.
As the Middle Eastern magazine Al-Monitor wrote, the reaction of the accused and the Turkish ruling class was also surprising, which did not shut down Peker’s YouTube channel and was very cautious in commenting on his accusations. Minister Soylu sued the criminal more than two weeks after the first video was published, and rather took it out on the Cumhuriyet newspaper, which wrote articles on some of the allegations.
The opposition took advantage of Peker’s videos to try to harm the government: more or less all the leaders of the rival AKP parties have condemned Soylu and the other government leaders involved, and in some cases contributed to the allegations: a member of the CHP, the main opposition party, accused the Interior Ministry of providing Peker with special equipment to avoid wiretapping.According to the New York Times, although the scandal generated by Peker’s videos has little chance of leading to any real political consequences, it is still an extra blow to Erdoğan’s reputation, already damaged by the mismanagement of the economy and the pandemic from coronavirus.
To make this story compelling for many Turkish citizens there is also the figure of Peker, who for about thirty years has been a well-known figure in the news both for his criminal activities and for his connections with the political world. He is a well-known organized crime leader and has been accused of countless crimes throughout his life, from extortion to murder. He fled the country for the first time in the 1990s, only to return to the early 2000s and face several trials, including the famous Ergenekon trial, in which several members of the army and other important institutions were accused of plotting against the state.
Peker is also an ultranationalist, who over the years has supported far-right political ideologies and has been a supporter of conservative President Erdoğan. One of the episodes for which he is best-known dates back to 2016, when in a public message he threatened with death a group of intellectuals who had criticized Erdoğan and called for an end to the operations of the Turkish army against Kurdish minorities: “We will make your blood flow to rivers and we will shower with your blood », he wrote then.
Peker was investigated for those threats, but after a few months, the charges were dropped. Peker later continued his activities and also received an award from the Milliyet newspaper as a businessman who is particularly active in charity. Peker fled Turkey in 2020 and he is now living abroad. According to what he claims in the videos, he would have done so on the advice of Minister Soylu, who would have warned him that investigations were underway against him. In April 2021, Turkish police raided his properties in Istanbul, making confiscations and arresting dozens of his collaborators. The video publication began on May 1st.