Turkish mafia leader claims to have organized Twitter bot army to prevent Soylu’s resignation

Sedat Peker, a well-known convicted mafia leader, has said that he had played a role in the support shown for Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu when the minister attempted to resign from his post in April 2020 over a short-notice coronavirus curfew. Peker said that he had organized the bot-like Twitter accounts and some media portals to object to Soylu's resignation, a day before it was announced.

This collage photo shows Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu (L) and Sedat Peker.

Duvar English

In the fourth installment of his video series, Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker said Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had notified him that an investigation file was being prepared on him before he fled Turkey in 2019.

“Did you not say that they are filing an investigation file on Sedat Peker? Did you not say that I will let him know when there is a dangerous situation?” the 49-year-old convicted mafia leader said on his YouTube channel on May 13.

Peker alleged that Soylu had previously told people that he “likes” the mafia leader. “Did you previously not say that 'I like him'? What has changed in such a short period of time? Are you not the one who granted me the police guard and then extended their duty a year later?” Peker.

In 2019, Peker settled in Montenegro, saying that he came to continue his university education. He was arrested earlier this year in North Macedonia and on Jan. 18 was deported to neighbouring Kosovo. 

Peker implied in his last video that there was a fight between Soylu and former Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law, on who will “run” the megacity of Istanbul.

“Did you not say that 'I cannot run Istanbul' and Berat is running it?' Did you not say that 'He is the one who is having everything done?'” Peker said.

Peker also alleged that Soylu was the one who had turned Albayrak against him. “If you have honor, speak up. Are you not the one who turned me into an enemy of Albayrak?” the mafia leader said.

Peker also commented on Soylu's attempt to resign from his post in April 2020 after the minister received widespread criticism over just two hours' notice for a 48-hour COVID-19 lockdown in main cities, which caused chaotic scenes as crowds of people rushed to the shops to stock up on supplies.

Erdoğan later rejected Soylu's resignation saying it was not "appropriate" for him to resign and the minister would continue in his position.

By offering to take individual blame - even though the lockdown was approved by Erdoğan - and then winning a public endorsement from the president, Soylu was at the time said to have strengthened his own position.

Peker said that Soylu's resignation was not an abrupt decision and the minister had prepared a scenario in advance. A day before the resignation, Twitter bots had been ordered to show their support for the minister, Peker said.

“A day before [the resignation], tweets have been prepared from bot accounts. You know those 1.3 million tweets. You also know that all of those people [who organized the Twitter bot army] are like my brothers, and the news portals which I helped with their launching have also supported you,” Peker said.

In the face of Peker's statements, Soylu released a statement on social media, saying he will file a lawsuit against the allegations.

“I have know for months that this scenario would come to this point. The mafia dirt that is an operation element in some people's hands, has inflicted pain on many people for years through threats and blackmailing,” Soylu wrote, calling on Peker to surrender himself to the Turkish justice.

Meanwhile, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik and Erdoğan's spokesperson İbrahim Kalın have each released a statement on social media expressing their support for Soylu.

Seeking to discredit Peker's allegations, Çelik and Kalın said that they "condemn" those who "target our Interior Interior Minister, cabinet and party with the remarks of a member of a criminal organization."