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Erdoğan’s son left Bologna over ‘security concerns’, Italian newspaper claims

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan, who moved to Italy in October of last year to finish his doctorate, which he started in 2007, has left Bologna citing security concerns, Today’s Zaman wrote, citing a local Italian daily on Thursday.

Bologna-based ll Resto del Carlino claimed that Erdoğan recently sent farewell messages to his friends in Bologna, telling them that they decided to go back to İstanbul.

“Our security in Bologna has been a sensitive issue both for the Italian and the Turkish government,” he reportedly said in the message. Erdoğan son also promised to turn back to Bologna in a more “peaceful” environment, the daily claimed.

The claim follows a report by another Italian daily that the Bologna Public Prosecutor’s Office in Italy launched an investigation into Bilal Erdoğan on suspicion of money laundering.

The Italian newspaper ll Giornale reported last month that fugitive Turkish businessman and Young Party (GP) leader Cem Uzan’s brother, Murat Hakan Uzan, filed a criminal complaint against Bilal Erdoğan last year at the Bologna Public Prosecutor’s Office, accusing him of violating both European and Italian financial laws based on the claim that when he moved to Italy in 2015, he brought with him large amounts of cash to launder in Italy. Bologna Chief Public Prosecutor Manuela Cavallo then reportedly decided to investigate the claims and opened an investigation.

Bilal Erdoğan, who was one of the prime suspects in Turkey’s largest corruption case, which came to public attention on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, settled in the city of Bologna in Italy along with his wife and children following the June 7, 2015 parliamentary election in which the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) founded by President Erdoğan lost its majority in Parliament.

The president’s son moved to Italy to continue his Ph.D. education at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Bologna, where had previously pursued doctoral studies, and has enrolled his children in a school there. Bilal Erdoğan also reportedly asked for security guards from the Italian government.

In October of last year Twitter whistleblower Fuat Avni’s claimed that Bilal Erdoğan went to Italy with large amounts of cash, saying that Bilal flew to Italy on Sept. 27, 2015 and planned to remain there for a while and possibly bring family members over at a later time. Avni wrote:

“They [the Erdoğan family] are planning to keep Bilal in Italy until the [Nov. 1] election. They will determine whether he will be coming back according to the situation after the election.” Bilal Erdoğan still lives in Italy with his family.

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