AK Party founders slam PM Erdoğan over leaked corruption recording

Several former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) members, including founders of the party, have criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over a recently leaked audio recording allegedly of Erdoğan instructing his son to dispose of vast amounts of cash at the start of the investigation of a growing corruption scandal.

In an audio recording that was uploaded to YouTube on Monday evening, Erdoğan seems to brief his son about police raids taking place that day and tells him to “zero” at least $1 billion in cash stashed in five houses. The conversation allegedly took place on Dec. 17, 2013, the day on which police raided a number of locations as part of a corruption investigation that has implicated the sons of four then-Cabinet ministers, businessmen, several high-level bureaucrats and the chief of a state-run bank.

Commenting on the leaked recording, former AK Party deputy chairman Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, who was one of the founders of the AK Party in 2001, said that if the recording is authentic, the democracy of Turkey will be seriously damaged by this incident. Speaking during a program broadcast on Halk TV on Tuesday evening, Fırat said that he listened the recording several times and added that he hopes this recording is not genuine. “When I first heard it, I hoped that this recording is a fake. I still say that. I don’t find the fact that the prime minister of the Turkish Republic is accused of doing such a thing [corruption] good for the country. If such an incident is true, the country could be swiftly drawn into a chaotic situation. The Turkish economy will be affected very seriously by this and Turkish democracy will be seriously damaged,” Fırat said.

Fırat said the country can only move forward by strengthening its democracy, by improving freedoms and encouraging transparency, adding “If it [the government] does so, not only the AK Party but the whole of Turkey will be affected negatively. This could draw the country into chaos. Turkey must observe the rule of law.” Fırat noted.

Former Foreign Minister Yaşar Yakış, another AK Party founder, said that he hopes that the recording is not authentic. “I am very disturbed by the current situation of the AK Party. The point where the party stood when we established the party and the point where the AK Party now stands are very far apart from one another. The enthusiasm and the attitude that we had in the party’s early years no longer exists in AK Party members. I am really disappointed with the current situation of the party.”

Also participating in the Halk TV program by telephone, AK Party former Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said that he actually became upset when he heard the recording reportedly between Erdoğan and his son. Stating that he was astonished by the content of the recording, Günay said that the prestige of Turkey has been seriously damaged by the recording. Günay also said that the recording should be examined by professionals and should be investigated by objective judicial bodies.

Former AK Party deputy Mehmet Zekai Özcan also commented on the recording on Wednesday. Özcan said that as a person who has spoken with the prime minister many times, he believes that the recording is authentic after having listened it several times. “I begin to tremble even saying that it is authentic. It is not easy to accept this. We are talking about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. I am very upset on behalf of my nation. I hope it is not true. I even pray for this. However, unfortunately, my first impression is that the recording is authentic.”

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