BEIRUT

Middle East

Turkish PM investigated for corruption

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to address his lawmakers in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)Recep Tayyip Erdogan

ANKARA: A chief prosecutor's office on Tuesday initiated an investigation into audio recordings purportedly of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordering his son to dispose of vast amounts of cash amid a graft probe, state-run media reported, as opposition parties demanded that the government resign.

Erdogan met with Turkey's intelligence chief shortly after voice recordings of two people - alleged to be Erdogan and his son - circulated on the Internet on Monday.

The voices were heard discussing means of getting rid of large amounts of money from an undisclosed residence.

A statement issued by Erdogan's office later said the tapes were fabricated and that legal action would be taken against those responsible.

It was not clear if the probe by Ankara's chief prosecutor was to determine the recordings' authenticity or whether they represented a possible criminal act by the prime minister.

Earlier on Tuesday, Devlet Bahceli, the leader of Turkey's far-right Nationalist Action Party, called the recordings "mind-blowing" and urged prosecutors and other judicial bodies to intervene.

The Republican People's Party, Turkey's main opposition, claimed to have verified the authenticity of the recordings through "three or four channels" and called on Erdogan to either resign or "flee (Turkey) by helicopter."

On Tuesday, Erdogan lashed out at Turkish and foreign enemies he claimed were conspiring to bring his government down and again charged that the tapes were fabricated.

"This is a treacherous act against the prime minister of Turkey," he said.

The Associated Press cannot authenticate the audio recordings which reportedly took place on Dec. 17, when three Cabinet ministers' sons were detained in the police corruption and bribery probe.

The government said the investigations were orchestrated by followers of a moderate Islamic movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen denies involvement.

Erdogan says the group wants to discredit the government before local elections in March and a presidential election in August.

 

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Summary

A chief prosecutor's office on Tuesday initiated an investigation into audio recordings purportedly of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordering his son to dispose of vast amounts of cash amid a graft probe, state-run media reported, as opposition parties demanded that the government resign.

Erdogan met with Turkey's intelligence chief shortly after voice recordings of two people -- alleged to be Erdogan and his son -- circulated on the Internet on Monday.

On Tuesday, Erdogan lashed out at Turkish and foreign enemies he claimed were conspiring to bring his government down and again charged that the tapes were fabricated.


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