TÜGVA accusations ‘upsetting thousands of people’, says Erdoğan’s son

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan said the accusations of corruption against foundations close to the Erdoğan family were slanderous and insulting, while also being “upsetting to hundreds of thousands of people”.

Speaking at an event on Thursday by the Ensar Foundation, one of the institutions accused by a whistleblower this week, Bilal Erdoğan said that the institutions in question were complimentary to public services.

“When you defame these institutions, you upset hundreds of thousands of people at the same time. You insult tens of thousands of people, you slander them,” news website Duvar cited Erdoğan as saying.

The Turkish president’s younger son is among the founders of the Turkey Youth Foundation (TÜGVA). He is also on the executive board of the Turkey Youth and Education Service Foundation (TÜRGEV), and the board of trustees of the Foundation to Spread Ilm (İYC). All three, and the conservative pro-government Ensar Foundation, are implicated in the leaks.

According to documents provided to journalists by a person professing to be a former TÜGVA employee, TÜGVA, TÜRGEV, İYM, Ensar Foundation and three others were part of a so-called ‘parallel state structure’ where applicants for key positions in public service would be appointed to posts through them, bypassing regular procedures of the state itself.

The institutions in question, including the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM) where President Erdoğan’s daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan is deputy chairwoman, were also allegedly allocated hundreds of buildings to be used as both for-profit commercial shops and as student dormitories. Many of their budget items were also being covered by the public, via governorates and municipalities, according to the leaks.

Bilal Erdoğan said the foundations complied with the law and worked to compliment and fortify public services where the state could not provide enough.

“There is a fight for whether Turkey will lose its own identity and resemble any other country in Europe,” Erdoğan said. According to the president’s son, the foundations were targeted for upholding “this homeland’s values”.

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