The ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) decided to set up two working groups that will probe into possibilities of taking up legal action against the diplomatic correspondence between the U.S. diplomats in Ankara and Washington revealed by Wikileaks accusing Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and some ministers for corruption.
Huseyin Celik, the deputy chairman of AKP told journalists that the documents were being studied and “necessary initiatives will be taken.” Turkish press reported that during the AKP Central Committee meeting earlier this week, the documents revealed by Wikileaks were discussed and it was decided to find a formula to resort to legal action against them. For this purpose two working groups, one at the Justice Ministry with the participation of AKP legal experts and another one at the Foreign Ministry will be examining the possibility of legal action.
Diplomats protected under Vienna Convention
Some experts say that the Vienna Convention of 1961 regulating diplomatic relations provide diplomatic immunity for the U.S. diplomats who have written the secret reports incriminating Turkish government members and businessmen close to AKP.
“Third is corruption. AKP swept to power by promising to root out corruption. However, in increasing numbers AKPers from ministers on down, and people close to the party, are telling us of conflicts of interest or serious corruption in the party at the national, provincial and local level and among close family members of ministers. We have heard from two contacts that Erdogan has eight accounts in Swiss banks;
his explanations that his wealth comes from the wedding presents guests gave his son and that a Turkish businessman is paying the educational expenses of all four Erdogan children in the U.S. purely altruistically are lame,” wrote U.S. Ambassador Eric Edelman in 2004 in a classified correspondence to Washington. The document created uproar among the AKP circles here when it was revealed by Wikileaks last week.
“Among the many figures mentioned to us as prominently involved in corruption are Minister of Interior Aksu, Minister of Foreign Trade Tuzmen, and AKP Istanbul provincial chairman Muezzinoglu. As we understand it from a contact in
the intel directorate of Turkish National Police, a continuing investigation into Muezzinoglu’s extortion racket and other activities has already produced evidence
incriminating Erdogan. In our contacts across Anatolia we have detected no willingness yet at the grassroots level to look closely at Erdogan or the party in this regard, but the trend is a time bomb.” Edelman’s correspondence went on implicating government ministers and other AKP members.
Joint Ventures with Iran benefit Erdogan’s circle
In another classified correspondence Dale Eppler, the economic counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara alleges that Turkey’s joint ventures with Iran benefit mostly Erdogan’s circle. In the documents some of the names are deleted.
Eppler writes: “In trying to undercover more about this deal, we spoke with several people. BOTAS Chairman Saltuk Duzyol said BOTAS was not included in the deal and that the agreement was made with a private company but declined to specify it. One of Energy Minister Guler’s advisors, Musa Gunaydin, who is widely believed to be behind the Minister’s push to do business with Iran refused to discuss the topic with us. xxxxx was more open. The Turkish company SOM Petrol has entered into a joint venture with Iran, Demir said. The owner of SOM Petrol is Sitki Ayan, a good friend of PM Erdogan. They both attended Istanbul Imam Hatip (religious high school). Ayan is in the PM’s circle of friends including Mustafa Erdogan (PM’s brother), Cihan Kamer (see para 2) and Mucahit Aslan. xxxxx. According to our research, xxxxx is active in port construction, fuel transshipments and other activities but doesn’t appear to have any experience in upstream oil and gas development.”
All these allegations infuriated Erdogan who lashed out on both the media and the opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu who said the prime minister should clarify the allegations about his eight accounts at Swiss banks.
“I am declaring openly that those who spread these slanders on their headlines and those who exploit these for political purposes are as contemptible as those who originally put them forward without any proof,” said Erdogan angrily.
He added, “I don’t have a penny (Allah’ın bir kuruşu)in Swiss banks.”
Davutoglu also gets his share
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in Washington where he met with the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Davutoglu said afterwards that Clinton apologized on behalf of the U.S. diplomats who used unacceptable language about Turkish leaders in their secret dispatches.
Davutoglu also got his share of obloquy from the Wikileaks. In Edelman’s correspondence he is described as “extremely dangerous” and having “muddy opinions.”
Despite all the thunder and lightning over the leaks, cool-headed legal experts claim that nothing can come out of AKP’s efforts to go to court against those who penned these reports. If they are after Julian Assange, the creator of Wikileaks, everybody is after him anyway.