From the alleged drug trade and cover-up of a murder, to the transfer of arms to Islamic militants, a convicted Turkish mafia boss exposed the dirty laundry of members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party. , through a series of eye-opening videos that have captivated the nation and turned it into an unlikely phenomenon of the social media.
Sedat Peker, a 49-year-old fugitive organized crime boss who openly supported Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party at the time, has posted videos of almost 90 minutes duration from its declared base in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), where it does scandalous accusations but not yet proven, in an apparent attempt to settle accounts with political figures.
The weekly YouTube videos They have already been viewed more than 75 million times, causing quite a stir, raising concerns about the Turkish state’s corruption and putting officials on the defensive.
Sedat Pekar uploads 90-minute videos to YouTube with scandalous accusations. Photo: AP
They have also exposed alleged rifts between rival factions within the ruling party, and have exacerbated the problems of Erdogan, who is fighting the economic recession and the coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday morning, a couple from Istanbul were engrossed in watching Peker’s latest premiere. They were one of the millions of people who tuned in to the show in Turkey.
“I added (Peker’s videos) to the category of television series that I watch every week,” said Gulistan Atas. “Just like a television episode, I look forward to, and every week, Sunday, we prepare our breakfast when we get up and we see you while we have breakfast“.
Dressed in a half-buttoned vest or shirt displaying a medallion, Peker taunts his opponents from behind a desk with neat notes, prayer rosary beads, and books, where he promises to provoke their downfall using nothing but a “tripod and a camera”.
A couple from Istanbul were engrossed in watching the latest Peker premiere. Photo: AP
His first videos were directed at the former Minister of the Interior, Mehmet Agar, and his son, Tolga, a legislator from the ruling party, whom accused of raping a young student of Kazakh journalism and later covering up his murder as suicide.
Mehmet Agar, Peker suggested, misappropriated a luxury marina that could have been used in drug trafficking operations. Hagar subsequently resigned from the marina’s board of directors.
In later videos, accusations were launched. against businessmen and media figures close to the government, as well as against the son of former prime minister Binali Yildirim, stating that he was involved in drug smuggling from Venezuela.
But the target of Peker’s strongest and most mocking attacks is the Minister of the Interior, Suleyman Soylu, whom he accuses of abuse of power and corruption, while he aspires to become President of Turkey. Peker justifies the tale by saying that Soylu betrayed him despite the criminal leader’s help in defeating a rival faction within the ruling party.
Alparslan Atas and his wife react to the mafia boss’s complaints. Photo: AP
All involved they have rejected the accusations of Peker.
Weapons to terrorists
In an explosive claim of international dimensions, the mob boss said that a former Erdogan security adviser, accused of leading a paramilitary force, had sent weapons to al-Qaeda-linked militants in Syria. Erdogan has not yet addressed those claims, although the government has in the past denied allegations of having armed the jihadists.
Erdogan ignored Peker’s videos for weeks, but broke his silence on May 26, when he dismissed the mob leader’s earlier allegations as a conspiracy against Turkey.
“We will destroy these games, these plots. No one should doubt that we will derail this cunning operation,” Erdogan said. “We will persecute members of criminal gangs Anywhere in the world to those who flee … We will not leave these criminals alone until we bring them back to our country and hand them over to justice. “
Peker responded to Erdogan that week and suggested that the Turkish strongman could be future video hub. He later said that he would talk about Erdogan after his meeting with US President Joe Biden on June 14, so as not to “weaken” him. In his last video on Sunday, he said his revelations would be made with respect and would not harm the state itself.
“Will reality change if they find me and take me (to Turkey)?” He said.
The opposition parties, for their part, have taken advantage of the accusations to demand the resignation of those involved, as well as parliamentary and judicial investigations.
The ruling party and its nationalist allies blocked attempts by the opposition to launch parliamentary investigations into Peker’s claims, as well as the arms smuggling allegations.
The authorities issued a new arrest warrant against Peker.
Can Selcuki, director of the Turkiye Raporu survey and analysis platform, said of Peker: “We must not forget that he is a criminal “, but explained the popularity of the videos as a need for information.
“It seems to me that people are asking questions of this illegal operator because they cannot get answers elsewhere. And this tells me that there is a growing demand in Turkish society. more transparent“Selcuki said.
Peker addresses his viewers, especially those under 40, as the true masters of Turkey, who have the power to demand responsibility and change.
Peker responded to Erdogan that week and suggested that the Turkish strongman could be the focus of future videos. Photo: AP
Peker, a nationalist who advocates for unity among the Turkish-speaking nations, entered and left prison from the age of 17 for his participation in organized crime and other crimes. Following his last release from prison in 2014, he held demonstrations in support of Erdogan’s party and launched threats against his opponents. Her 2015 wedding to Ozge Peker, who was her attorney, attracted a number of celebrity guests.
In April, an operation was launched against Peker’s group, which led to the arrest of some 60 of his collaborators.
His address in Istanbul was also registered. Peker maintains that he was forced to speak up after his wife and two daughters were allegedly abused and humiliated during the police raid.
“They ask me why I do it,” Peker said in the last video. “I swear to God that at first I did it out of rage, I was expecting an apology … Now, I don’t know why I do it … I want to do it “.
Gulistan Atas’ husband, Alparslan Atas, said Peker’s videos were like the Godfather and Scarface movies, which were forever etched in the memory of the people.
“I like that the dirty rags of the State have come to light and have been disseminated, because knowing that people who are in politics with the Koran in their hands can at the same time do business with cocaine, gives me interesting information “, He said.
The author is a journalist for the Associated Press