A journalist on Friday claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had warned Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu not to talk on TV about recent allegations by a crime boss who has been targeting Soylu as well as other former and current officials with bombshell allegations.
Deniz Zeyrek, a columnist for the Sözcü daily, said during a political debate show on Halk TV that according to information he received from an official from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Soylu was warned by the president not to discuss the recent revelations about state-mafia relations on television.
“What raised the level of importance of [crime boss] Sedat Peker’s allegations was Süleyman Soylu, who got into an argument with him [through televised statements],” Zeyrek said.
The head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups and once a staunch supporter of Erdoğan, Peker has since early May been setting the country’s political agenda through videos he posts on YouTube. Having fled to Dubai, the mafia boss has been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials and their family members.
Soylu has so far been Peker’s main target, primarily because he ordered a police raid on the gangster’s house in April when his wife and three children were home alone and because he called Peker “a dirty mafia leader” in a tweet.
Peker has claimed that it was connections to his family that had helped Soylu rise through the ranks of the right-wing True Path Party (DYP) before he joined the AKP in 2012 at the invitation of Erdoğan. He also claimed that Soylu helped him avoid police prosecution by notifying him that an investigation was being prepared against him, before he fled Turkey in early 2020. The mob boss further said Soylu previously told people that he and Erdoğan “liked” Peker.
Following these revelations, Soylu did two televised interviews, one on state broadcaster TRT Haber and one on the pro-government Habertürk TV, attracting criticism for both since he failed to give satisfactory answers to the journalists’ questions regarding Peker’s allegations against him.
Meanwhile, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Saturday that Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop on May 27 directed a written question to Soylu regarding his claim that a politician was receiving a monthly payment of $10,000 from Peker, asking him to reveal the politician’s name.
Soylu made the assertion in a televised interview, based on Peker’s statement that he ordered a raid on the headquarters of the Hürriyet daily in 2015 upon a request from a then-AKP lawmaker, which the mafia leader made in the sixth installment of his video series posted on Youtube on May 20.