Meral Akşener, leader of the nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party, has said that Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu confirmed during a recent TV program the 2013 claims of corruption implicating then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his family and his inner circle, Turkish media reported on Friday.
“He [Soylu] mentioned the December 17-25 [2013 corruption investigations], saying that money counting machines were discovered in the house of the son of former interior minister [Muammer Güler] and that his son would never be involved in such ‘businesses’,” Akşener said early Friday during a live program on Fox TV.
The İYİ leader argued that Soylu confirmed the allegations of corruption implicating Erdoğan, his family members and government officials close to him when he chose to speak openly about the money counting machines found during the investigation in a country where anyone who speaks out about the 2013 probes is immediately declared to be a FETÖ member.
FETÖ is a derogatory term coined by Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, as a terrorist organization.
Following Soylu’s remarks in reference to the corruption probes, Erdoğan broke his weeks-long silence about the revelations of Sedat Peker, a notorious Turkish mafia boss who has been directly targeting Soylu with bombshell allegations, and said he stands behind the minister.
Some analysts say Erdoğan’s support for Soylu is aimed at preventing the minister from bringing the corruption investigations back to the nation’s agenda due to his own involvement.
Turkey was shaken by two corruption investigations implicating Erdoğan’s inner circle in late 2013. Erdoğan’s government subsequently suppressed the ensuing corruption scandal by creating special criminal courts headed by a single judge, thanks to the AKP’s parliamentary majority.
These judges then jailed all the police officers and prosecutors who had conducted the corruption investigations – all of whom are still behind bars — while Erdoğan and his family members who were implicated have never appeared in court.
The president has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations, which he dismissed as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government.
Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the group following an abortive putsch that took place on July 15, 2016, for which he also blamed the preacher and the members of his movement, which he designated as a terrorist organization.
According to a statement from Soylu in February, a total of 622,646 people have been investigated and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup.
The AKP government also removed more than 150,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt and scores of others had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.