WikiLeaks has released over 57,000 personal emails of Turkey’s Minister of Oil Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The emails spanning from 2000 to 2016 allegedly detail exchanges between Albayrak and the Turkish “ruling elite” and highlight his influence across the country’s political scene.
The emails appear to have been sourced from the Turkish hacktivist group Redhack, which had previously claimed to have obtained Albayrak’s emails and threatened to release them publicly back in September 2016 if the government continued to detain leftists. Redhack’s emails were allegedly briefly published, only to later disappear from the internet following the Turkish government’s escalating crackdown on media.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “The people of Turkey need a free media and a free internet. The government’s counter-coup efforts have gone well beyond their stated purpose of protecting the state from a second Gulenist coup attempt and are now primarily used to steal assets and eliminate critics.
“The Turkish government continues to use force to jail journalists, shut down media and restrict internet access to its citizens, depriving them of their ability to access information about their situation including by banning WikiLeaks. This consolidation around the power vertical of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ultimately weakens Turkish institutionalism, leaving Turkey more susceptible to future coups by those in Erdoğan’s chain of command.”
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December 5, 2016
Relationship with Powertrans
WikiLeaks alleges that the emails reveal “Albayrak’s involvement in organisations such as Powertrans, the company implicated in Isis oil imports”. Citing one particular email, which details Albayrak’s exchange with his lawyer, the whistleblowing platform pointed toward Turkey’s energy minister’s allegedly implied connection with Powertrans.
“The archive contains almost 30 emails exchanged between Albayrak and Betul Yilmaz, the human resources manager of Çalık Holding, a conglomerate of which Albayrak was Chief Executive Officer,” WikiLeaks said in a blog. The emails detail Yilmaz seeking approval from Albayrak “regarding Powertrans personnel decisions”, including hiring of staff and approval of Powertrans salaries.
“I share short evaluations of candidates you have directed to me,” reads a roughly translated transcript of one of the emails sent to Albayrak by Yilmaz. The email appears to contain detailed discussions on various candidates for different roles within Powertrans.
In one email to his lawyer Albayrak denies any involvement with or connection to Powertrans as he writes: “I never had ties with this company!”
Crackdown on Press and Social Media
According to WikiLeaks, the archive also contains emails that reveal the government’s alleged attempts to “control” the Turkish press and social media.
“A number of emails show that since the 2013 Gezi Park protests the AKP has invested in controlling social media, including hiring people to work on Twitter to influence messaging on the platform, despite blocking normal internet access to it for those within Turkey,” WikiLeaks alleges.
The Turkish government has previously blocked access to various leading social media platforms, amid rising protests within Kurdish regions. In October, the government issued an emergency decree to shut down internet access in nearly a dozen Kurdish regions, amid widespread protests. WikiLeaks itself is banned from in country after the site published emails from the AKP party’s email database following a failed coup.
WikiLeaks’ latest release follows its earlier 90GB data dump, which related to the ongoing German parliamentary probe into the country’s intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and its alleged relationship with the NSA.