Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker on May 18 shared two recordings showing him having a video call with pro-government journalist Hadi Özışık.
Peker said he posted the recordings in question in response to Özışık's denial that he was the contact point between Peker and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
“Hadi Özışık – Süleyman Özışık brothers, who are the owners of internethaber have denied that they were acting as a mediator between me and Süleyman Soylu, who are their closest. They said, 'Whoever is talking is dishonorable.' I would not deceit anyone, but I would also not put myself in a shameful position,” Peker wrote on his social media account, as he released two videos documenting his conversations with Hadi Özışık.
Kıymetli dostlarım,— Sedat Peker (@sedat_peker) May 18, 2021
İnternethaber sitesinin sahibi olan hadi özışık - süleyman özışık kardeşler en yakınları olan süleyman soyluyla benim aramda aracılık yaptıklarını yalanlamışlar, söyleyen şerefsizdir demişler. Ben kimseye hile yapmam, ancak kendimi de rezil duruma düşürmem. pic.twitter.com/HRURnpPKu1
In one of the video calls, Hadi Özışık is unhappy about his name being uttered in Peker's videos, saying it was in fact his brother Süleyman Özışık -- another pro-government journalist -- who held a meeting with Soylu on behalf of the mafia leader.
“Why did you give my name? My name needs to be kept secret by you...It was Süleyman Özışık who went to talk [with Soylu]. The mentioning of my name [in Peker's videos] creates a very serious problem,” Hadi Özışık says, urging Peker to trim the video in a way that his name is not heard.
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.
When Peker asks why Soylu turned against him, Özışık says: "I cannot give a meaning to it. I could not sort it out. You are right."
Peker's videos shook the social media, with several users and politicians calling on Soylu to give an account of his mediated contact with the mafia leader.
Many people recalled Soylu's promise that he “was ready for every kind of punishment, including death penalty” should his contact with Peker be proven.
Workers' Party of Turkey (TİP) lawmaker Ahmet Şık asked Soylu what kind of a “message” Süleyman Özışık had conveyed to him about Peker. “What did you [Soylu] say in return? Do you have any norm with regards to political ethics for resignation? Şık asked.
İçişleri Bakanı @suleymansoylu bu videolardaki konuşmaların da araştırılması için savcıları göreve çağıracak mısınız? Sahi @slymnoz size Sedat Peker ile ilgili ne mesaj getirdi? Siz ne karşılık verdiniz? İstifa edecek siyasi etikle ilgili herhangi bir norma sahip misiniz?— ahmet şık (@sahmetsahmet) May 18, 2021
Academic Prof. Süleyman İrvan said Turkey is going through a period in which “a crime organization leader is exposing a journalist,” when instead it should be the other way around.
Ne günlerden geçiyoruz? Gazeteci suç örgütü liderini değil, suç örgütü lideri gazeteciyi deşifre ediyor.— Süleyman İrvan (@suleymanirvan) May 18, 2021
Journalist Altan Sancar also commented on the video calls, saying: “And then these men [Özışık brothers] in their columns, newspapers, websites and on TV channels tell us, 'You are not a journalist, you are a terrorist.' When we do not even refer to politicians 'esteemed,' a man who calls himself a 'journalist' addresses a crime organization leader as 'My chairman.'”
Biz siyasilere bile sayın demezken, kendine 'gazeteci' diyen adam, suç örgütü liderine "Reisim" diye hitap ediyor. Meslek büyüklerimiz, "Sakın, haber kaynağınıza kendisini sizden üstün göreceği şekilde hitap etmeyin" diye sıkı sıkı tembih etmişti. Ama onlar gazeteci, biz terörist— Altan Sancar (@altansancarr) May 18, 2021
Last week, Peker claimed that he was in contact with Soylu through acquaintances. Peker said that the minister had assigned him personal guards for his security before he fled Turkey and informed him about the investigation into him.
Soylu rejected the claims and said that he would continue his fight against organized crime. He also filed a criminal complaint against Peker over the accusations.