Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Er­do­gan fu­ri­ous over leaked US cable

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

ANKARA: Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan of Turkey has eacted fu­ri­ously to claims in a leaked U.S. State Depart­ment memo that he has money in Swiss bank ac­counts and said U.S. di­plo­mats should be pun­ished for al­le­ga­tions he branded as lies and gos­sip.

The an­gry out­burst broke from Turkey's ini­tial po­si­tion of down­play­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the leaks and say­ing that the doc­u­ments would not af­fect Turk­ish and U.S. ties.

The clas­si­fied cable, re­leased this week by Wik­iLeaks, is dated Dec. 30, 2004 from then-U.S. Am­bas­sador Eric Edel­man, who was as­sess­ing Er­do­gan's sec­ond year in power.

It says: "We have heard from two con­tacts that Er­do­gan has eight ac­counts in Swiss banks; his ex­pla­na­tions that his wealth comes from the wed­ding presents guests gave his son and that a Turk­ish busi­ness­man is pay­ing the ed­u­ca­tional ex­penses of all four Er­do­gan chil­dren in the U.S. purely al­tru­is­ti­cally are lame."

Er­do­gan said on live tele­vi­sion he was pre­pared to re­sign if op­po­si­tion par­ties can prove that he has any money in a Swiss ac­count.

"The United States is re­spon­si­ble for those di­plo­mats' false claims and their smears. The United States should en­sure that the di­plo­mats are held to ac­count," Er­do­gan said on live tele­vi­sion. "To ac­cept as true the lies and slanders that em­anate from the per­sonal ha­tred of one or two for­mer am­bas­sadors and to ac­cuse the govern­ment is a great wrong."

Turkey's main op­po­si­tion party this week called on Er­do­gan to ex­plain the Swiss bank ac­counts claim and said it had formed a com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tion."

An­other U.S. diplo­matic cable, dated Feb. 27, 2009, claimed that Er­do­gan's friends were ben­e­fit­ing from Turkey's busi­ness deals with Iran. One friend from his days at a re­li­gious school was head of a Turk­ish com­pany that had en­tered a joint ven­ture with Iran to de­velop gas and build pipe­lines, the memo said.

Edel­man served in Turkey at a time of when ties be­tween the United States and its close NATO ally grew tense fol­low­ing the Turk­ish par­lia­ment's re­fusal to al­low U.S. troops to use Turkey's ter­ri­tory for the 2003 in­va­sion of Iraq.

Er­do­gan sug­gested Turkey might seek le­gal ac­tion against the di­plo­mats, say­ing Turkey was de­ter­mined to "pur­sue" the al­le­ga­tions at home and abroad.

"We have talked about these with the U.S. govern­ment. They have al­ready made an apol­ogy, but we do not find this suf­fi­cient. They have to take ev­ery step nec­es­sary with those di­plo­mats. -Ap

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