A mob boss is causing political havoc in Turkey after he posted a series of YouTube videos outlining alleged ties between government officials and the criminal underworld. Among other things, the mobster Sedat Peker has accused officials of murder, drug trafficking, and bribery. Peker’s YouTube channel has hundreds of thousands of subscribers and his twice a week hour-long videos—the latest of which was posted Sunday—receive millions of views. Always sitting at a desk, he recounts the stories of corruption gleefully.
His videos are even split into chapters almost as if episodes of a Netflix series. For some Turks, they feel exactly like that. “It’s almost like a soap opera for many of us I think,” Canan Özkan, a Turkish student who has watched all of Peker’s videos said. “I’m sure that there are some tall tales in there, but I don’t think you can dismiss all of it that easily…” The main focus of Peker’s accusations is Suleyman Soylu, Interior Minister and member of the far-right AKP party, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Peker claims that Soylu tipped him off just before authorities were planning to arrest him, allowing him to flee Turkey to Dubai. However, some of his most damning allegations are against Mehmet Ağar, a Turkish politician and former minister, and his son Tolga Agar. In a video posted May 6, Peker claims that Tolga Agar raped and murdered Kazak journalist Yeldana Kaharman. In March of 2019, Kaharman was found dead at Agar’s residence, but the death was ruled a suicide—a coverup, according to Peker. It’s not clear why Peker is releasing these videos in the first place, but the mob boss has accused AKP leaders of betrayal—although curiously he has yet to level any accusations at Erdogan himself. His first video, released on May 2, was posted just weeks after police had arrested nearly fifty people associated with his criminal organization.
Oftentimes he seems to be making hidden threats at unknown figures. In each video he has different books on his desk, including the novel Omertà by Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, and a book on Turkish history, leading some viewers to speculate whether they are code for something. “You all know what I have,” Peker states in his first video. “You can hide like roaches no longer.” Turkish officials have so far denied the Peker’s allegations and have refused to start any investigation into his claims, despite calls from opposition parties. Whether what Peker is saying is true or not, photos of him with prominent politicians, including Soylu, circulating in the media don’t make for good optics. And those optics are starting to translate into potential political losses. According to German national broadcaster DW, AKP sat at a mere 27 percent approval rating in recent polls. With no end in sight to Peker’s series of videos, the mob boss seems content to watch the drama from afar. “Your end will come at the hands of a camera on a Tripod,” Peker says in one video. “Just wait and see—more is to come.”