Nikolaos Stelya / DUVAR
Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersan Saner, whose National Unity Party (UBP) withdrew from the government last week, has said that he became the “target of a very ugly character assassination.”
Saner's comments came after a video surfaced on Oct. 19 evening showing him making a video call to a young woman in a compromising position.
Saner said that the video was fake and the product of editing. “There is a complete conspiracy; we have even determined that there was a cooperation with the underground world. The issue does not just revolve around me. Those who have been attacked are me, my family, my party and our political institute,” Saner said in a written statement on Oct. 20.
“With this video that has been edited with the maximum use of technology, I have become the target of a very ugly character assassination,” he said.
Saner pointed out the timing of the release of the video, saying it was leaked before the UBP's planned Oct. 30-31 general congress, where candidates will be contesting for the party's leadership.
Saner said that he had been receiving rumors for months now that a mobile number acquired in Greek Cyprus would release such an “edited video” in order to discredit him.
Meawhile, Kıbrıs newspaper alleged that Saner would withdraw from politics altogether following the video crisis. “It has been learned that Ersan Saner who prepared a letter of resignation has withdrawn from the [UBP] general assembly and will also resign from the party leadership,” Kıbrıs newspaper said.
The release of the video came amid allegations that Halil Falyalı, a so-called businessman in Turkish Cyprus who allegedly gained massive wealth through illegal means, mainly betting, is blackmailing politicians for his release.
Falyalı has been recently arrested on charges of “theft, kidnapping, threat and severe battery.”
Turkish journalist Erk Acarer wrote on his social media account on Oct. 20 that Falyalı launched a “negotiation” process after being imprisoned. “He started to blackmail [politicians], saying 'Release me.' According to allegations, he has started to pressure bureaucrats and politicians through their obscene videos,” Acarer said.
Saner had assumed the UBP leadership and prime ministership last year following Turkey's support. Last week, he had presented the resignation of the coalition government to President Ersin Tatar, after months of political deadlock.