Convicted Turkish crime boss to give pro-Erdoğan speech at rally

Sedat Peker, a convicted leader of a criminal organisation in Turkey, has announced he will join a rally one week before the June 24 elections and give a speech in support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The elections are of crucial importance to Erdoğan, the frontrunner in the first presidential election under a new system that grants the president vastly enhanced executive powers.

Peker, a hard-line Turkish nationalist known for using violent rhetoric, announced on social media that he would be speaking at an event in the eastern Anatolian province of Elazığ to commemorate Turkish military casualties on Jun. 17.

Peker’s announcement included lines urging his followers to ensure that Erdoğan is reelected, though he insisted in a later Twitter post that the rally would not be a political event.

Twice convicted in Turkey of crimes including leadership of a criminal organisation, Peker has been an outspoken supporter of Erdoğan since his release from prison in 2014.

When Turkish academics signed a petition calling on Turkey to deescalate the conflict with Kurdish armed groups in the country’s southeast in January 2016, Peker responded by threatening to “let (the academics) blood in streams and watch (them) drown in it.”