The 49-year-old Sedat Peker is a leader of the Turkish underworld and a former supporter of Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party. His 90-minute videos – broadcast from Dubai, where he says he is – are full of explosive, but unproven, allegations as he apparently tries to settle scores with political figures.
His weekly YouTube videos have been viewed more than 75 million times, sparking an uproar, heightening concern over corruption among Turkish leaders and placing officials on the defensive.
They also expose possible rifts between rival factions of the ruling party, adding to the problems of Mr. Erdogan who is already fighting a slowdown in the economy and the coronavirus pandemic.
Elegantly dressed, Mr. Peker taunts his opponents behind a neatly tidy desk on which you can see notes, a rosary and books. He promises to bring them down using nothing but a
tripod and a camera.
His first videos targeted former Interior Minister Mehmet Agar and his son Tolga, a parliamentarian from the ruling party, who allegedly raped a young Kazakh journalist and then disguised her murder as suicide. Mr. Peker accuses Mehmet Agar of having illegally seized a luxury marina which would have been used for drug trafficking. Mr. Agar subsequently resigned from the Marina Board of Directors.
Other videos then attacked business people, media figures close to power and the son of former prime minister Binali Yildirim, who allegedly participated in drug trafficking from Venezuela.
But Mr Peker reserves his most vicious and contemptuous attacks on Home Secretary Suleyman Soylu, whom he accuses of abuse of power and corruption as he tries to become the country’s president. Mr Peker claims Mr Soylu betrayed him, after he helped him defeat a rival faction within the ruling party.
All those concerned refute Mr. Peker’s allegations.
Former Erdogan adviser targeted
In an explosive allegation with international repercussions, Mr Peker claims that a former security adviser to Mr Erdogan, suspected of leading a paramilitary group, supplied arms to Syrian militants close to al-Qaeda. Erdogan has yet to respond to the allegations, but the government has previously denied arming jihadists.
Mr Erdogan ignored Mr Peker’s videos for several weeks, but broke his silence on May 26 by claiming his allegations were part of a plot against Turkey.
No one should doubt that we are going to defeat this malicious operation. […] We prosecute members of criminal groups no matter where they are in the world. We will not give up until we bring them home and bring them to justice.
Mr Peker then replied that the president himself could be the subject of future videos. He warned, however, that he would not say anything about him before the June 14 meeting between Mr. Erdogan and US President Joe Biden, so as not to weaken Mr. Erdogan’s position.
The Turkish opposition has seized on these allegations to demand resignations and judicial inquiries. The ruling party and its nationalist allies are resisting these demands, and an arrest warrant has been issued for Mr Peker.
Pollster Can Selcuki of Turkiye Raporu said of Mr. Peker:
let’s not forget he’s a criminal. He then explained that the popularity of the videos stems from a lack of information.
Seems like people ask these questions [à ce criminel] because they can’t get answers elsewhere, he said. And it tells me that Turkish society is demanding more and more transparency.
Mr Peker claims that his listeners, and especially those under 40, are the true owners of Turkey, and that they have the power to demand accountability and change.
Mr. Peker, a nationalist who advocates the unity of Turkish-speaking nations, has been increasing the number of times in prison since the age of 17. After his release in 2014, he organized rallies in support of Mr. Erdogan’s party and threatened his opponents. Her marriage the following year drew many celebrities.
In April, a police operation against Mr. Peker’s organization led to the arrest of around 60 of his associates.
His Istanbul home was also searched. Mr Peker claims he decided to speak out because his wife and two daughters were allegedly abused and humiliated during the search.
They ask me why I’m doing this, he said in the most recent video. At first I was doing this because I was angry, I was waiting for an apology … Now I don’t know why I’m doing this anymore … Because I want to.