Erdogan Attacks 'Parallel State's Blackmail Tapes'
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday attacked those behind recent leaks as being a "parallel state," and in doing so revealed they hold numerous recordings of key officials in Erdogan's government - including himself.
“They have tapes to blackmail people. They have tapes about the president and also about the chief of general staff. If you have one about me, reveal it,” Erdogan said in a meeting of his AKP party.
The Turkish prime minister sharpened his tone as he said "they have no honor. Even enemies do not commit so much ingloriousness. We will clear the state of these assassins."
Erdogan temporarily blocked the social media site Twitter in late March after leaks surfaced on the internet implicating Erdogan's inner circle of corruption.
According to Turkish news source Hurriyet Daily News, the leaks are part of a power struggle between Erdogan and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan based in the US whose followers are allegedly behind the leaks.
Erdogan added "they could not find what they were looking for on me. They just released some of my phone conversations with my ministers or my wife, and my son. They will not be able to find anything.”
A leaked phone recording of Erdogan and his son Bilal went public in February, in which the two allegedly discuss how to hide vast amounts of money. Erdogan at the time denied the authenticity of the recordings.
In what was seen by critics as an attempt by Erdogan to strike back at the leaks, tighten his grip on the country and turn it into a police state, Turkey's Parliament led by Erdogan's AKP party approved a law last Thursday giving the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) greater powers and immunities.
The new law further made the leaking of classified documents an offense punishable by a jail term, which is particular meaningful given the series of leaks. Just before the Twitter ban was lifted, Erdogan's government blocked YouTube over more leaks.