Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan dismissed reports that emerged in the Turkish press on Tuesday that he has cancer and only two years to live.
“God and only God” who knows when anyone will die, Erdogan said on Wednesday. He did not, however, directly discuss his health or deny that he may have cancer.
“It is just God and only God who knows how long each of us will live,” he said. “When the time of death comes, you cannot move it back or forth by an hour.”
“Those who fall for rumors and calculate the time we have left in this world are not only impudent but in a state of insolence,” said Erdogan.
The Taraf newspaper on Tuesday published a leaked email from security analysis company Stratfor that included a report that Erdogan had colon cancer.
The chief surgeon who operated on Erdogan also said the cancer report was “a complete lie,” Taraf said.
Cancer rumors started after Erdogan had surgery on his lower intestine in November, with a second procedure last month.
Erdogan, 58, returned to work less than two weeks after each operation and is scheduled to resume overseas trips this month with visits to Korea, Germany and Iran.
“The prime minister’s health is very good,” his office reported, saying the Taraf report as "gossip and speculation."
Erdogan, 58, won a third consecutive term at an election last June and dominates Turkish politics. He is widely seen as the force that keeps the ruling-AK Party falling into factionalism.
He helped found the AK party in 2001 after the Islamist party that he had belonged to was banned.