Turkish customs data refute former PM's claims on his son's COVID-19 aid to Venezuela

Turkish customs data have refuted former PM Binali Yıldırım, who said that his son delivered COVID-19 aid to Venezuela in December. The visit by Yıldırım's son Erkam Yıldırım has been at the center of controversy since a mafia boss claimed that he went to Venezuela to set up a new international drug trafficking route.

Erkam Yıldırım (L) and former PM Binali Yıldırım.

Duvar English

Turkish customs data have revealed that former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım's son Erkam Yıldırım didn't deliver COVID-19 aid to Venezuela in December, days after a mafia leader claimed that he visited the country to set up a new drug trafficking route. 

Customs records from between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020 didn't show any mask or test kit transfers from Turkey to Venezuela, directly refuting the former PM, who said that his son delivered COVID-19 aid, the daily Cumhuriyet reported on May 31. 

The controversy over Erkam Yıldırım's visit began after mafia leader Sedat Peker on May 23 claimed that he visited Venezuela to set up a new international drug trafficking route following a major drug bust last year. 

Colombian authorities on June 9 announced that they have seized 4.9 tons of cocaine headed for Turkey.

According to Peker, who has been directing accusations at current and former officials in his YouTube videos for the past month, the bust prompted Yıldırım to visit Venezuela in January and February to find a new route. 

The former PM, who is currently the deputy leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was quick to dismiss Peker's shocking accusations. 

"My son indeed went to Venezuela, but not in January or February. He went there in December last year. He distributed test kits, masks and other stuff to those in need as part of the struggle against COVID-19," Binali Yıldırım said on May 23. 

Customs data, however, showed no mask transfers at the time of Erkam Yıldırım's visit. Some 1,500 test kits were sent to Venezuela in the same period, but as part of a business transaction between two companies. None of the companies are linked to Yıldırım, the daily Cumhuriyet reported. 

According to the daily, the lack of any records may indicate two scenarios. While it's possible that Yıldırım never delivered masks and test kits to Venezuela, it's also possible that the transfer was carried out by illegal means. 

Peker, a pan-Turkist and Turanist organized crime boss who fled Turkey in early 2020 to avoid prosecution, has been releasing videos on YouTube for the past month that include serious allegations against current and former politicians in a bid to take revenge for the operations launched into his organization.

Although mostly infuriated due to being sidelined, Peker, an ally-turned-foe of the government, repeatedly says he releases the videos as a reaction against police officers raiding his house and pointing guns towards his wife and little daughters.