Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan says incriminating phone recordings are fake
ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) — The Turkish Prime Minister's office issued a full-throated denial Monday night, rejecting the veracity of a series of telephone audio-recordings that have exploded throughout Turkish social media and political circles like a bombshell.
The recordings appear to be wire taps of a series of conversations allegedly held between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son, Bilal. The two men heard in the recordings discuss in detail how to hide vast amounts of money.
The alleged recordings were made the day after a wide reaching corruption probe ensnared the sons of three cabinet members.
"Audio recordings serviced on the Internet tonight alleging to be a phone conversation between our respected Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son are the product of an immoral edit and are completely outside of reality," Erdogan's office said in a statement
The recordings allegedly reveal Erdogan cautioning his son to "take everything out of the house."
Erdogan's son, Bilal, was questioned but never detained in the corruption probe.
Erdogan has pledged to investigate corruption within his government. But the prime minister has also denounced implications that his family is involved in the scandal.
In the phone conversations, the two men discuss in detail how to hide money and who to give it to.
At one point, a male voice that sounds like Erdogan's warns the other man to be cautious about about speaking on the phone.
"I am telling you not to speak so openly," the voice says. "What have we been telling you from the start... my son, you are being recorded."
Embarrassing recordings of private phone conversations have been emerging on the Internet on an almost-weekly basis in Turkey, ever since police first detained the minsters' sons and dozens of other businessmen and officials closely linked to Erdogan's government December 17.
The government denounced the investigations, claiming they were part of a coup attempt by what Erdogan officials described as a "parallel state" established within the police force and the judiciary.
Thousands of police officers have been removed from their posts following the corruption probe that caught Erdogan's administration by surprise.
The top prosecutors who led the investigation have also been stripped of their positions.
Meanwhile, the government has passed a highly controversial law that gives it direct control over the judiciary.
Erdogan's administration has also tried to push through another piece of legislation that would give the government the power to shut down Internet sites without first obtaining a court order.
The turmoil that has rocked Turkey for the last two months is widely seen as a power struggle between Erdogan and a Muslim cleric who had long been one of his most powerful allies.
For years, a septugenarian preacher living in self-imposed exile in the United States was seen as a strong supporter of Erdogan.
But Fethullah Gulen and his supporters have been engaged in an open political war with Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, since the corruption investigation.
The Prime Minister has lashed out against the Gulen group, likening its members to assassins.