Carnations and candles are left by family members and friends on the memorial of Ugur Mumcu, Turkey's best known investigative journalist who was killed in 1993, in Ankara, on January 24, 2020 to commemorate his death Photograph:( AFP )
Sedat Peker, an underworld mobster exiled abroad, has accused members of the government and the ruling AKP party of corruption and various crimes
Media rights groups on Sunday urged Turkish authorities to investigate explosive allegations by a mafia boss about the high-profile killings of two journalists in the 1990s.
Sedat Peker, an underworld mobster exiled abroad, has accused members of the government and the ruling AKP party of corruption and various crimes in a series of YouTube posts over the past three weeks.
In the latest, released on Sunday, he alleges former interior minister Mehmet Agar was the head of the "deep state" in Turkey, and alleges Agar was involved in the 1993 murder of prominent investigative journalist Ugur Mumcu.
Mumcu, who wrote for the Cumhuriyet daily, was killed in the capital Ankara after somebody rigged his car to explode when he switched on the ignition. The perpetrators were never identified.
In his video recording, Peker described Mumcu as a "martyr" and an "honourable man".
The mafia boss also claimed the murder of Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adali had been ordered by a former lieutenant colonel and a senior official of the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), Korkut Eken.
Adali, who worked for the left-wing Yeni Duzen newspaper in Nicosia, was shot dead in front of his home in 1996. His killers have never been identified.
Calls to investigate
Erol Onderoglu, Turkey representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), said Peker's allegations needed to be investigated.
The truth about the killings of journalists in the 1990s had been "swept under the rug", he tweeted.
"Peker's legitimacy or position does not justify silence. #Impunity," he added.
The Turkish Journalists' Union called for answers Sunday.
"We want an investigation into the #UgurMumcu and #KutluAdali murders," the union tweeted.
"We demand that the suspects be put on trial. We call on prosecutors to do their duty."
🧱 #UğurMumcu ve #KutluAdalı cinayetlerine dair iddiaların soruşturulmasını istiyoruz. Şüphelilerin yargılanmasını talep ediyoruz. Savcıları göreve çağırıyoruz. Tuğla çekilsin, duvar yıkılsın! pic.twitter.com/viPBLSpqyv— Gazeteciler Sendikası (@TGS_org_tr) May 23, 2021
Peker, 50, who has been jailed several times for a range of offences, from fraud to running a criminal group, fled Turkey in 2020 to avoid prosecution and is thought to be currently living in the United Arab Emirates.
Since then, he has released a spate of videos in which he claims to expose state-media-mafia links after police operations against him and his associates across the country in April.
In one, he accuses Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu of having offered him protection and of having tipped him off about an impending investigation against him last year, which allowed him to flee before being arrested.
Soylu is one of the most powerful figures in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government. Despite pressure from the opposition to resign, he has dismissed Peker's allegations.
A journalist for Turkey's state news agency Anadolu was fired Friday after raising Peker's claims against the interior minister at a government press conference with other ministers.
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."
Yalan, iftira ve yapay krizlerle gündemi kuşatma altına almaya çalışanlar şimdi de 6 ay sonrası için boş vaatler vermeye başladı.— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) May 22, 2021
Seçimlerin tarihi bellidir.
6 ay sonra ne olacak ki böylesine cüretkâr sözler söyleyebiliyorsunuz?
Yine kimlerin dolduruşuna geldiniz?
There was no immediate reaction to the latest claims.
Some commentators refer to what they call the workings of the "deep state" — derin devlet in Turkish — to talk about a shadowy structure alleged to exist with links between politicians, secret services, mafia and extremist groups.