Turkish crime boss says interior minister provided him protection

Convicted crime boss Sedat Peker on Thursday accused Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu of helping him avoid police prosecution.

The revelation came in the latest in a series of videos posted online by Peker since the start of the month, each of which has garnered millions of views.

In the videos, Peker purports to reveal the details of several major scandals, implicating senior members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in criminal cover-ups and corruption.

The accusations have seen furious reaction by government figures, who have in turn charged Peker with links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).   

Reacting to criticism directed against him by Soylu on Wednesday, Peker, mockingly referred to the interior minister: “He tweeted about me and said: ‘dirty mafia’… Today I will tell you about the ‘clean’ Süleyman”.

Peker, a noted Turkish nationalist, said it was connections to his family that had helped Soylu rise through the ranks of the right-wing True Path Party (DYP).

Soylu joined the AKP in 2012 at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and is seen as a standard-bearer for the nationalist wing of the party.

The crime boss added to rumours of tensions between Soylu and Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who are reported to have become embroiled in a power struggle.  

Addressing Soylu directly, Peker asked: “Didn't you make me an enemy to Mr. Berat?”

When my relative came to you and said: There is something coming to the ears of the chief, there are problems in Istanbul, did you or did you not say: I do not rule Istanbul, Berat does.”

Peker, who was convicted of leading a criminal organisation in 2007, was detained by North Macedonian police on drugs charges in January, according to local media reports.

However, he said Soylu had helped warn him of previous police investigations:

“Didn’t you say they are preparing a file for Sedat Peker?”

Didn’t you say I will let you know if there is a dangerous situation?”

Responding to Peker’s accusation, Soylu sought to discredit the claims as politically motivated.

Bring the allegations, your slander, to the judiciary so that everything is exposed,” the Interior Minister said in a statement.

“Do not run away like an operation rat, come to your country and face justice,” Soylu said.

Peker is currently believed to be in Dubai.