A Twitter user named “Başçalan” (thief in chief) has uploaded a new audio clip to YouTube, purportedly of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaking to his son-in-law Berat Albayrak over the sale of the Turkuvaz Media Group, which includes mainstream news outlets such as the Sabah daily and ATV channel, allegedly revealing that Erdoğan is a secret owner of this media group.
The recording, which is claimed to be a legal wiretap from a corruption investigation implicating Erdoğan, some of his Cabinet members and an inner circle of businessmen, also allegedly showed Albayrak to be the top manager, steering the company according to the instructions of the prime minister.
The clip ostensibly shows that former Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım, who is running for mayor of the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality for the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AK Party), carried out a covert operation to collect funds from a number of businessmen in order to acquire the Turkuvaz Media Group.
When the two men allegedly discuss the use of some figureheads from the business world to hide the real operation, Albayrak suggests that Erdoğan purchase a TV channel this way and sign "a partnership protocol," a preliminary agreement to stipulate the conditions for the partnership, accordingly. Albayrak informs the prime minister of some technical issues and possible obstacles that might be encountered during the process. His son-in-law stresses the urgency of signing a partnership protocol with the Qataris.
The identity and involvement of the Qataris are not clearly stated in the conversation. Albayrak tells Erdoğan that the Qataris are only interested in a 25 percent share, while they insist on having the privileges of a majority stakeholder. It is imperative to go to Qatar and hold the talks face-to-face to settle the dispute, Albayrak tells his father-in-law, who agrees and adds that he will fly to Qatar within two weeks.
In numerous previously leaked audio tapes of phone conversations through certain Twitter accounts, it has been claimed that Erdoğan personally managed the acquisition of the Turkuvaz Media Group by ordering businessmen to contribute over $600 million to create a pool of funds in return for favorable treatment in public tenders. The main opposition has put these allegations to the government in several parliamentary questions, but none of them have been addressed so far.
New Alo Fatih episode: the sale of digiturk
In another recording, released on Saturday from another Twitter account, Haramzadeler (sons of thieves), Fatih Saraç, deputy chairman of the Ciner Media Group owning the Habertürk daily and news channel, is purportedly heard chastising someone, who the video claims to be businessman Abdullah Tivnikli, for the latter's desire to buy a 53 percent share in Digiturk, a satellite television provider, on the grounds that Digiturk broadcasts pornography.
According to the audio recording, Saraç was angered on hearing of Tivnikli's intention to bid for the network, which was put up for sale by the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). Saraç, popularly known as "Alo Fatih" for receiving orders from the prime minister over the broadcasting of anti-government stories in Habertürk's programs, allegedly warns Tivnikli to stay away from Digiturk. “You will not be able to give that money to purchase Digiturk, and you have lost me,” Saraç is heard telling the businessman, who he spoke of in the same recording as his “old friend.”
He uses the network's pornographic content to justify his opposition to Tivnikli's involvement, adding that he had also strongly advised businessmen Turgay Ciner and Ferit Şahenk to stay away from Digiturk. “Your forehead touching the ground in prostration is something. Being a man is a different thing. Being upright and brave is a different thing,” he says in the wiretapped conversation.
Saraç said he would run a critical story about him in the Habertürk daily the next day, attaching a picture to the text. Tivnikli struggles to reassure Saraç and convince him that he has already changed his mind, but Saraç is not persuaded. As he said, Habertürk later ran a news piece about Tivnikli's plan to buy the network.