Eavesdropping scandal increases pressure on Turkey’s Erdoğan

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A second audio recording, presented as the voice of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan asking his son not to accept an amount of money on offer in a business deal but to hold out for more, was published on YouTube by an anonymous poster using a pseudonym on Wednesday (26 February).

Erdoğan said a similar post on the video-sharing site on Monday, allegedly of him telling his son Bilal to dispose of large sums of cash as a graft investigation erupted, was faked by his political enemies.

"Don't take it. Whatever he has promised us, he should bring this. If he is not going to bring that, there is no need," the voice on the latest recording, presented by a user under the pseudonym Haramzadeler as that of Erdoğan, says.

"The others are bringing. Why can't he bring? What do they think this business is? ... But don't worry they will fall into our lap," the voice says.

The authenticity of either recording could not be independently verified.

"We are going to check whether the tapes are fake or not and no statement is planned at the moment," a senior government official told Reuters.

The recordings, which appeared within days of the ruling AK Party's official launch of a campaign for local elections at the end of March, are the latest and potentially most damaging allegations in a graft scandal that Erdoğan has cast as concocted to unseat him.

Late on Monday, his office released a statement describing the first recordings as "completely untrue and the product of an immoral montage".

No company names are mentioned in Wednesday's audio recording but the voice purportedly of Bilal Erdoğan refers to a "Mr. Sitki", saying he could not carry out a transaction.

An accompanying text within the YouTube clip says the reference is to Sitki Ayan, the chairman of Istanbul-based company Turang Transit Tasimacilik. The basis for that conclusion was not clear.

It could not immediately be determined what ties, if any, Turang or its chairman have to the Erdoğan family.

Telephone calls by Reuters to the offices of Turang seeking comment were not immediately answered on Wednesday night.

Turang received a license in 2010 to build part of a pipeline planned to carry Iranian and Turkmen gas to Europe through Turkey, according to its website.

It was granted incentives including tax exemptions on investments of up to 11.5 billion lira (€3.8 billion) from the government in December, according to the Economy Ministry's website.

Euronews said many Turks were looking at the Ukrainian Euromaidan protests as a model for bringing down Erdoğan’s regime.

Andrew Duff, a prominent liberal MEP, has recently tabled an amendment to a European Parliament resolution, in which he calls for the “long-lasting and open-ended” accession process with Turkey to be abandoned, in view of the rampant autocracy in this country, and “an alternative form for association” to be considered instead.

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