Mob boss's allegations risk further damage on Turkish government

Corruption allegations by a notorious figure in the criminal underworld risk further damaging the Turkish government as it struggles to deal with economic issues and the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters said on Thursday.

Sedat Peker, who was jailed in 2017 on organised crime charges, has released a series of online videos since the start of the month detailing the alleged involvement of government officials in crimes including drug use, sexual assault, and an unexplained death.

The videos have been viewed millions of times, sending shock waves through Turkish social media.

Reuters said Peker’s accusations appeared to be part of a spat with Turkish Interior Minster Süleyman Soylu.

Peker was targeted by a Turkish police operation in April having previously denied he had fled the country to avoid prosecution. In a video posted last week, the crime boss addressed Soylu directly, saying the interior minister had previously offered him police protection. 

Soylu has strongly denied the claims, describing them as a politically motivated smear campaign instigated by the opposition.

On Tuesday, Peker released a purported video recording of a conversation with journalist Hadi Özışık in which they discuss efforts to mediate with Soylu.

“I'm stuck in the middle. On one hand I have a friend I love, and on the other a friend I love,” Özışık said.

“We became enemies of Mr Berat for him,” Peker replies, an apparent reference to the rumoured rivalry between Soylu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak.

Opposition parties have sought to capitalise on the revelations by calling for Soylu to resign, Reuters said.

"The strange thing is that there is now a fight between them and the state is watching. The interior minister is just watching these disputes," the news agency cited main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as saying.  

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