Former chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deniz Baykal said on Monday that then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had knowledge of a sex tape plot that compelled Baykal to resign after a massive public scandal in 2010.
Speaking on Ahmet Hakan’s “Tarafsız Bölge” show on CNN Türk on Monday, Baykal said the recording of the video showing Baykal’s adultery was known by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and Erdoğan.
“It is not two or three people at MİT who conspired about me. The entire organization officially knew and carried out an operation [against me]. There were even payments from a secret fund [of the Prime Ministry] for the personnel involved in the matter. Therefore, it is not possible to think that the entire organization [of MİT] and the then-prime minister were out of this [matter],” Baykal said.
Baykal also said a group of agents at MİT who were alleged by the government to have been involved in the sex tape plot were dismissed from the organization by a recent government decree over links to the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a failed coup on July 15.
“It doesn’t change the fact that the then-prime minister knew about the plot,” he added.
A video appeared on several news websites showing Baykal partially clothed in a room with CHP Ankara deputy Nesrin Baytok in 2010, while Baykal was still the leader of the party. The longtime CHP leader heeded insistent calls from both members and supporters of his party and announced on May 11 of the same year that he had decided to step down from his position. During a televised press conference at CHP headquarters, Baykal said the release of the video was part of a conspiracy against him.
When the sex tape first went public in 2010, Baykal rejected claims that the Gülen movement was involved in the incident.
After a major graft scandal in December 2013, then-prime minister Erdoğan accused sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the state bureaucracy of plotting against him in order to overthrow his government.
Erdoğan later blamed the Gülen movement for the sex tape that forced Baykal to resign from the top post in the CHP.
Speaking at a parliamentary group meeting in 2014, Erdoğan said Baykal should speak out as he was once subjected to and was a victim of a similar plot before he resigned from his party in 2010.
Baykal, however, maintained his stance on the issue and said Erdoğan was mistaken in expecting a supportive attitude from him unless the claims by the prime minister about who was responsible for recording the sex tape were proven true.
Later in March 2014, a leaked voice recording purportedly of Erdoğan organizing the dissemination of the video footage of Baykal’s adultery provoked widespread criticism, including from Baykal, who made a statement calling on “Erdoğan and the state to provide an explanation” concerning the leaked audio.
Baykal called the sound recording a “big satanic scenario” and wanted Erdoğan to immediately offer an explanation. “This is a very important starting point for disclosing how and from where all dirty games originate in Turkey,” said Baykal.
“It is understood that a legal, democratic and political problem exists,” the former CHP leader said, adding that the new situation was not something that could be covered up, whitewashed or denied with ordinary assertions. “If this event [the leaked audio] is real, the people who plotted it have no right to look in the mirror, to look me in the face. It is impossible for them to keep walking as if nothing has happened,” Baykal said.
The sound recording stirred harsh reactions on social media platforms. Thousands of people on Twitter, the access to which was then restricted by the government, argued that the sex tape intrigue, which compelled Baykal to resign after a massive public scandal in 2010, was plotted by Erdoğan to get rid of his archrival on the political stage.
Erdoğan’s voice cannot be heard clearly in the recording, and a note included with the recording states it was intercepted through covert audio surveillance, which explains possibly the noise and scratch interference throughout the sound recording. But in some versions, cleaned up by audio engineers using scratch filters, Erdoğan’s words are largely audible.
In the recording, which seems to be a collage of different speeches, the voice attributed to Erdoğan instructs his men to capture Baykal in flagrante delicto and spread the footage through the media and Internet.
“Unfortunately, there are very indecent and immoral things. There has to be an intervention here. The CHP has gone completely off the rails,” Erdoğan is allegedly heard telling the people in the room.
“We have such things in our hands, a document to be published. If I give it to you, how would you do it? Are you passing them to websites?” says the voice, and after a pause, possibly a point at which parts of the original recording were edited out, he goes on: “All right, let’s do it like this, then. Let me first save it to a hard disk. But the recording is very bad. Can’t he [Baykal] say they are fake and this and that?”
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also lashed out at Erdoğan at that time over the allegations, accusing him of being behind the sex tape scandal. Kılıçdaroğlu said such viciousness had not been witnessed in the world, adding that Erdoğan’s alleged involvement in the plot was possibly the reason why the actors behind this conspiracy had not been pinpointed yet. “He is the lead actor. A person who brings indecency to these levels may not sit in the seat of the prime minister. This event is yet another version of the US Watergate scandal,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.