Turkey's ex-interior minister denounces leaked phone call to son during graft raid as ‘ill

Türkiye Materials 18 February 2014 16:28 (UTC +04:00)
Turkey's ex-interior minister denounces leaked phone call to son during graft raid as ‘illegal’
Turkey's ex-interior minister denounces leaked phone call to son during graft raid as ‘ill

Ex-Interior Minister Muammer Guler has said a leaked phone conversation with his son during a police raid the latter's house on Dec. 17, revealed last week by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), was illegally recorded. He also accused those who tapped the phones of manipulating the recordings in an attempt to "create a misleading perception." Hurriyet Daily News reported

"There is a perception that is created through the leaking of those recordings with cuts and adds on to the press and social media. They are linked to other unrelated probes and are served to the public as items of political manipulation," Guler said on Feb. 17 during a group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) at Parliament in Ankara.

The leaked recording was seen as proof that Guler and his son were aware of their fraudulent relationship with businessman Reza Zerrab, who emerged as the main suspect of the graft investigation.

The former minister's son, Baris Guler, was detained after the raids and has been held in custody ever since, along with Zarrab and the son of the ex-Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, Kaan Caglayan.

Guler also claimed that he had not directly called his son, but his lawyer present at the house.

"I did not call my son on the morning of Dec. 17, he did not call me either. That day, a call was made from a phone registered to the Interior Ministry and used by a personal secretary to the lawyer of my son, who used the phone at the raided house. I spoke with my son with the authorization of the officials," Guler said, expressing his surprise that those could have been eavesdropped.

"How were these phones wiretapped? The list of the phones that have been wiretapped as part of the investigation was handed to the Istanbul Public Prosecutor's Office upon the lawyers' request. There was no ruling to listen to and record the phones that I mentioned," Guler said.

Guler also noted that a conversation he held on a phone at his office with then-Istanbul Public Prosecutor Turan Colakkadi regarding the investigation was also leaked on the Internet. "How can it happen that a conversation of an interior minister with a public prosecutor is wiretapped? Who, with what authority, can listen to them and then hand out the recordings? This is illegal eavesdropping, a violation of the right of communication, and a crime," he said.

In the recordings revealed by CHP head Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Guler first inquired to his son about how much cash he had at home. After learning that the cash totaled around 1 million Turkish Liras, he was heard advising him to justify the amount of money to the police by saying that he was an unofficial consultant to Zerrab.

Guler did not deny the authenticity of the phone conversations, but stated that legal proceedings would be launched against "illegal" actions by prosecutors.

The AKP has repeatedly refuted the graft claims, accusing the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the probes in an attempt to topple the government.