Turkey’s prime minister has said an audio recording purportedly of him telling his son to hide large sums of money is fake. This was just the latest in a series of leaks related to a growing corruption scandal.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament on Tuesday that the audio recording posted on the video-sharing website YouTube was not authentic.
"They went and made a shameless montage and released it," Erdogan said. "They are even listening to the state's encrypted telephones. That's how low they are."
"There is no allegation that we cannot answer," Erdogan added.
By "they" Erdogan was generally understood to mean supporters of his former political ally, US-based Muslim cleric Fetullah Gullen, whom he has accused of tapping his phone, as well as those of cabinet ministers and journalists in recent months.
On the recordings, the authenticity of which has not been independently verified, a voice, purportedly that of the prime minister, is heard talk to another man, allegedly his son Bilal, instructing him to get rid of millions of euros in cash from his residence.
The two voices discuss ways to reduce the funds to "zero" by spreading them among several businessmen. At one point, the second voice names a figure of 30 million euros ($40 million).
The recording is purported to have been made last December just after dozens of Erdogan's allies, including the sons of a number of former cabinet ministers, were arrested as part of a corruption investigation.
Call to resign
The main opposition party responded to the latest revelation by calling on Erdogan to step down.
"The government has lost its legitimacy... and must resign immediately," Haluk Koc, a spokesman for Republican People's Party, told reporters late on Monday.
On Tuesday, the leader of the opposition Nationalist party, Devlet Bahceli called on prosecutors to open an investigation.
Erdogan's government has also faced criticism from the European Union in particular over recent legislation apparently designed to give it more control of the judiciary and increase controls on the internet in Turkey.
The latest leak comes just weeks before Turkish voters are to go to the polls in municipal elections.
pfd/dr (Reuters, AFP, dpa)