Turkish mobster Sedat Peker Photograph:( Twitter )
The seven videos Peker has posted so far have been viewed more than 56 million times on YouTube
When Sedat Peker, a convicted Turkish mob boss, began posting videos on social media earlier this month in which he made uncorroborated claims of corruption, murder and drug running against top politicians, millions of Turks tuned in to watch.
The seven videos Peker has posted so far have been viewed more than 56 million times on YouTube.
Some Turks see them as an embarrassment for President Tayyip Erdogan's government, which has ruled Turkey for nearly two decades and vaunted its success in breaking ties between the state and mafia.
Opposition parties have called for the resignation of Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, the main target of Peker's rambling monologues, in which he speaks from behind a desk in a mixture of street jargon and political rhetoric.
"You cannot handle this by going on screens and blathering," said IYI Party leader Meral Aksener.
Soylu has rejected accusations against him, which include extending Peker's police protection after he left jail and warning him of a crackdown on his organisation, calling them "disgusting lies" and a plot against the country.
Soylu filed a criminal complaint against Peker and said he was being targeted because of his fight against organised crime.
Asked in a televised interview why millions had watched the videos, Soylu snapped back that millions also watched child pornography.
Erdogan weighed into the issue on Wednesday and implied support for Soylu, telling parliament the government was chasing criminal gang members "no matter where in the world they run to."
Peker, 49, rose to prominence in the 1990s as a mob figure and was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2007 for crimes including forming and leading a criminal gang. He has served several sentences in Turkey and has said he is now in Dubai.
The Anadolu state news agency said Peker was now also suspected of involvement in a terror group led by a US-based Muslim preacher that Turkey blames for a failed coup against Erdogan in 2016.
The accusations thrown by Peker at Erdogan's allies, including a former prime minister, top officials and their relatives, range from corruption and drug trafficking to rape and assassinations.
The videos have focused heavily on Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, whom Peker alleges had offered him protection and then tipped him off about new impending charges, allowing him to flee abroad.
None of the allegations has been proven and those involved have protested their innocence.
But the political scandal sparked by the videos comes at an inopportune time for Erdogan, who is losing ground in opinion polls because of a depreciating currency and runaway inflation.
Addressing the allegations directly for the first time on Wednesday, Erdogan vowed to stand "side by side" with Soylu, a nationalist who is seen as one of Turkey's most popular and powerful officials.
"We have crushed criminal organisations one by one for 19 years," Erdogan said Wednesday.
"We follow criminal gang members wherever they may flee to in the world."
(With inputs from agencies)