[UPDATE] Minister’s leaked emails show Erdoğan family conspired to intervene in US elections

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The email traffic of Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister and son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, show that he, along with Erdoğan’s son Bilal, conspired to interfere in the US congressional elections.

Albayrak’s email account was hacked by RedHack, a Turkish Marxist–Leninist-Maoist computer hacker group, on Friday, and the group threatened to disclose 20 GB of secret information if the Turkish government failed to release Alp Altınörs, deputy co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and prize-winning novelist and journalist Aslı Erdoğan by Monday.

According to emails that were leaked on Twitter on Monday from various accounts despite the fact that the government blocked RedHack’s Twitter accounts on Sunday, Bilal Erdoğan sent an email to Albayrak that proposes a strategy for pro-government lobbyists in the US to target members of the US Congress who were taken on trips to Turkey by US-based sympathizers of the Gülen movement.

Inspired by the views of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, the Gülen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet Movement in Turkey, is accused by the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and President Erdoğan of plotting an infamous corruption scandal in December 2013 and a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.

In his email to Albayrak dated Aug. 5, Bilal Erdoğan says: “It is a good idea. Let’s do it as soon as possible,” in a forwarded email in English that suggests calling on opponents of the congressmen running for office who were taken to Turkey by Gülen sympathizers. He also suggests sending information to their opponents, saying: “Did you know Congressman XYZ took an all-expenses-paid trip to Turkey, sponsored by this man … wanted in Turkey for terrorism?” The email also suggests adding a video in which Gülen faints and followers weep during a sermon.

The attack strategy against US congressmen was devised by Halil Danışmaz, head of the DC-based Turkish Heritage Organization, approved by Bilal and confirmed by Berat, according to the leaks.

Despite the fact that Gülen and the movement have denied the accusation and called for an international investigation, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

As part of the lobbying against the Gülen movement in the US, a man named İhsan Aktaş claimed that he could get a lobbyist to arrange a meeting for Erdoğan with the campaign team of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate. Aktaş said Bülent Yavuz of SiVa CleanTech L.L.C., could arrange such a meeting. Erdoğan‘s son-in-law asked his man in the US to check him out.

‘NO CHANCE OF IMPROVING TURKEY’S IMAGE WHILE OBAMA IN POWER’

One of President Erdoğan’s chief advisors, journalist İlnur Çevik, sent Berat an email in March 2016 that included lists of opposition groups in Washington, D.C., in order to help the lobbying for Erdoğan. Çevik also urges action beyond the White House. “There is no chance of improving the image of the Turkish government while Barack Obama is in power as president of the United States,” Çevik adds.

The leaked emails of Berat Albayrak also expose how the pro-Erdoğan troll army in social media was set up, financed and coordinated. According to one of Albayrak’s emails, a special operations center was set up in the US for trolling government critics and opponents. The sender asks Albayrak for annual funding in the amount of $209,000.

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