The Turkish Prime Minister has accused his political rivals of hacking secure government communications networks to plant a fraudulent phone conversation during which he reportedly instructs his son to hide millions of Euros.
Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan called the 11-minute recording, which was posted to YouTube, a "treacherous attack" orchestrated by his former ally and current political rival, Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan acknowledged that the voice on the recording was his but claims it was edited in order to frame him.
"They went and made a shameless montage and released it," Erdogan told deputies. "They are even listening to the state's encrypted telephones. That's how low they are."
"We will bring legal action against these [wire-tapping] activities. If we let it go on, there will be no privacy for families, nor for the state in this country," he said later, according to the BBC.
The recording has divided Turkish parliament along party lines. From Reuters:
The head of the main parliamentary opposition insisted the conversation was genuine, telling Erdogan: "My advice to you is either flee the country, take your helicopter, or resign."
Supporters of Erdogan, locked in a power struggle with Gulen whom he accuses of contriving a graft scandal to topple him, chanted "Tayyip, we came here to die with you", "stand tall, don't bow" and "time is on our side".
"The people don't believe these lies," Erdogan called back to loud cheers and applause from the public gallery.
The recording, which allegedly was made on December 17, could not be independently verified by Reuters or the BBC.
Two state newspapers have accused prosecutors of hacking the government's communications. One of the prosecutors, Adem Ozcan, has denied the allegations.
"There was definitely no monitoring or phone-tapping of thousands of politicians, writers, NGO representatives and businessmen in the framework of this dossier in the way that the newspaper stories say," he said in a statement.
After the recording was released on Tuesday, hundreds of protesters shouting "Government resign" and "Thief Tayyip Erdogan" gathered in Ankara. They were eventually dispersed by police using water cannons and tear gas canisters.
[Image via AP]