Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said that two pro-government journalists have “fooled” mafia leader Sedat Peker into believing that they were mediating between him and the minister.
“I know Mr. Hadi [Özışık] from his phototography profession at Günaydın newspaper. My knowledge of the mediating issue would mean my death sentence. Can such a thing happen? They have fooled him [Peker], what can I do? He should call whoever fooled him to account,” Soylu said on May 19, during a live interview with the Turkish state TV TRT.
Soylu's comments came a day after Peker released two recordings showing him having a video call with pro-government journalist Hadi Özışık.
Peker wrote on social media that Hadi Özışık and his brother Süleyman Özışık were acting as a contact point between himself and Soylu, and that the released video recordings were proof of that.
In one of the calls, Hadi Özışık is unhappy about his name being uttered in Peker's videos, saying it was in fact his brother who held a meeting with Soylu on behalf of the mafia leader.
In the other conversation, Hadi Özışık praises Peker, referring to him as a "friend." Özışık says he is caught in the middle over the conflict between Soylu and the mafia leader.
Soylu later denied the accusations, saying that although he has known the Özışık brothers for years, he knew nothing about their calls with Peker.
The minister also filed a criminal complaint with the prosecutors against the Özışık brothers, accusing them of “insult,” “slander,” and "willingly and knowingly aiding an illegal organization while not being included in the hierarchical structure within the organization."