A Turkish journalist in exile has claimed that prominent businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been behind bars on a series of shifting charges since 2017, had in 1998 sold a company that made software for warplanes to a Turkish company instead of a US investor for a quarter of the price, local media reported on Thursday.
“Kavala was going to sell this company to a US investor. But at this point, a ‘very important’ person stepped in: Korkut Eken. He asked Kavala to sell to a Turkish company,” Erk Acarer said in a series of tweets posted on Thursday, a day before Kavala’s next hearing.
Eken is a former Turkish military officer and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) agent.
Notorious Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker, who is currently living in the United Arab Emirates, conveyed Eken’s request to Kavala through Zeki Türkkan, the manager and CEO of the company, Acarer said, also sharing documents proving his claims.
“Kavala sold the company, [which was planned] to be sold to the United States, to a company that Turkey wanted for a quarter of the price,” Acarer stated, adding that Peker told him he hadn’t received any money from the deal while Eken took $200,000.
Speaking to Deutsche Welle Turkish service on Friday, Eken acknowledged that he asked Peker to act as a broker between him and Kavala but denied claims that he took $200,000 for doing so, saying it was a “total slander.”
Regarding the sale, the journalist also quoted Peker as saying to him: “As a witness to this [sale], it’s my duty to share this in a post before the trial. … Businessmen who introduced themselves as religious, nationalist and national sold $3 million worth of material to the Presidency of Defense Industries for $50 million. [And] Kavala is the spy? It doesn’t make sense!”
Peker was referring to his previously voiced claim that EKBA Holding CEO Cihan Ekşioğlu, who was alleged to be an intermediary between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and mafia groups in Turkey and abroad, bought a device from the Israelis that analyzes social media platforms for $3 million and sold it to the Turkish government for $50 million.
Once a staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Peker has since early May been making shocking revelations through social media about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials and their family members.
Acarer explained that he revealed Peker’s claims since the Abu Dhabi government recently cut off Internet access to the mafia leader’s house, as the UAE and Turkey work to mend frayed ties after a period of bitter regional rivalry and amid a currency crisis in Turkey, and that Peker had told him two days ago he would share posts about Kavala’s 1998 sale before his next hearing.
“I find it appropriate to convey this information and [our] conversations to the public, since tomorrow is a critical hearing and I don’t think he had a chance to convey this information [himself],” the journalist said.
Turkey and the United Arab Emirates signed a series of cooperation agreements in multiple fields including trade, energy and environment as well as agreements covering direct investment in Turkey during the visit to Ankara on Wednesday of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the highest-level interaction between the two countries in years.
Kavala’s hearing on Friday comes with Erdoğan facing one of the toughest economic tests of his rule since 2003, with the Turkish lira tumbling to record lows against the dollar.
The 64-year-old civil society leader and businessman, who has been kept in jail without conviction for over four years, is accused of financing 2013 anti-government protests and playing a role in the 2016 coup attempt.
If convicted, he could be jailed for life without the possibility of parole.
The philanthropist has become a symbol to his supporters of the sweeping crackdown Erdoğan unleashed after the failed coup.