ANKARA (Middle East Eye) – A journalist for Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu was fired on Friday after raising embarrassing accusations by a mafia boss against the powerful interior minister at a government news conference.
Turkey has been gripped for the past three weeks by videos posted on YouTube by Sedat Peker, an underworld mobster who fled abroad, in which he accuses members of the government and the ruling AKP party of corruption and various crimes.
In one video, Peker notably accuses Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu of offering him protection and tipping him off about an impending investigation against him last year, allowing him to flee Turkey before being arrested.
Soylu, one of the most powerful figures in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, has been under pressure from the opposition to resign but has rejected Peker’s allegations.
Anadolu reporter Musab Turan asked Industry Minister Mustafa Varank and Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli to respond to the allegations at a news conference on Friday.
To the stunned reaction of the two ministers, Turan asked if the government had a plan for responding to the scandal, suggesting that Soylu’s name had become “associated with grave moral faults” and describing this as a source of “shame”.
A video of the news conference went viral on social media, AFP reported.
Anadolu swiftly issued a statement announcing that Turan had been fired, accusing him of lacking “journalistic principles” and propagating “political propaganda”.
“We have requested that the prosecutor carry out an investigation to verify whether [Turan] is a member of a terrorist group or not,” Anadolu said.
Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish presidency’s director of communications, wrote on Twitter: “Those who seek to harm the respectability of our state will pay the price.”