Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Wednesday filed a criminal complaint against two journalists whom he accused of conspiring against him with a mafia leader.
Soylu filed the complaint at the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on accusations of slander, insult and aiding and abetting a terrorist organization without holding membership in it.
Mafia boss Sedat Peker on Tuesday released two video calls with pro-government journalist Hadi Özışık after Özışık denied claims that he mediated between Soylu and Peker in the wake of an exchange of words and growing tension between the minister and the mafia leader.
In the recordings, Peker and Özışık criticize Soylu, who recently called Peker a “dirty mafia leader,” with Özışık telling Peker he would not try to stop him from making revelations about his relationship with Soylu.
Peker, the head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups, has for the last two weeks been setting the country’s political agenda through videos he releases on YouTube. The videos reach over a million viewers in the first day of their release. Peker, who lives in Dubai and is the subject of an outstanding warrant in Turkey, has been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations and drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials.
After the release of the video calls between Peker and Özışık, Soylu said he was shocked to see the conversation about him between the mafia leader and the journalist. He said he has known journalists Hadi Özışık and his brother Süleyman Özışık for years but denied Peker’s claims that the journalists mediated between Peker and Soylu in order to ensure Peker’s return to Turkey, according to the superhaber news website.
In the videos, Peker is heard constantly telling Özışık, “I was going to return to Turkey in April. What has happened to that?” meaning that Soylu made his return impossible by attacking him on Twitter as a dirty mafia leader and failed to keep a promise.
Soylu said he would file criminal complaints against the journalists accusing them of conspiring against him with a mafia boss.
“If only something had happened to him and I didn’t see this day,” Soylu said, according to superhaber, expressing his disappointment over the association of his name with a mafia leader.
In the meantime, Hadi Özışık released a statement on Wednesday in which he offered his apologies to Soylu and the public due to the conversations published by Peker.
Özışık confirmed Soylu’s account in that neither he nor his brother met with Soylu to mediate between him and Peker. He said he tried to calm Peker down during the phone conversations and decided on his own to make the calls to the mafia leader. He said Soylu knew nothing about his calls with Peker.
Once a staunch supporter of Erdoğan, Peker left Turkey following the publication of a report related to arms trafficking to Syria that was allegedly carried out under the guise of humanitarian aid. Although police recently raided his villa in İstanbul’s Beykoz district as part of an organized crime operation, they failed to detain him since he was out of the country.