Erdogan Admits Meddling in Turkish Judiciary amid New Leak Recordings
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has confirmed the authenticity of a tapped phone conversation which allegedly proves his involvement in judiciary affairs.
Erdogan's confessions came short before a new "leak" recording with his voice emerged on the Internet on Wednesday night and hinted at other cases where he has abused administrative authority, Turkish newspaper Hurriet Daily News has reported.
The tapped conversation in which Erdogan has owned up to taking part is with Sadullah Ergin, former Justice Minister, who is asked to "closely monitor" judicial proceedings against a media mogul.
The Turkish PM, however, denied any wrongdoing and explained he considered it appropriate to tell a former government minister he should keep an eye on a court case.
The proceedings involve Aydin Dogan, the honorary chairman of Dogan Holding, which is a controversial conglomerate operating in energy, media, industry, trade, insurance and tourism industries.
Erdogan also justified his actions revealing that he had been informed of Dogan's role in "parallel structures and dirty relations" and thus had felt it was required of him to tell former minister Ergin to closely follow the case.
In a statement published in the Hurriet Daily, which is his flagship media outlet, Dogan described the events as "a clear interference in the judicial process".
Many recordings, allegedly of Erdogan's wiretapped conversations, have emerged on YouTube over the last few weeks, but the Prime Minister has called most of them "montage", accusing his US-based rival, Fethullah Gulen, for conspiring against him and his party.
A new audio file was meanwhile uploaded Wednesday night on the Internet. According to Turkish newspaper Zaman, this time it features the Prime Minister as discussing with Ergin how to intervene in the presidential elections of the Council of State on behalf of a female candidate. The leak claims she is Erdogan's apparent choice for the office, and another politician should be pressured to withdraw his bid in her favour.
Allegations of graft and administrative abuses, as well as corruption investigations into his Party of Justice and Development (AKP), have led to a political crisis which forced Erdogan to declare on Wednesday he would step down if his party did not come as a winner out of the March 30 local elections.
Turkey's Prime Minister, however, has also hinted that he could run for Prime Minister for the fourth consecutive time, although that would contradict his own party's internal regulation and short time ago was deemed unlikely.