Turkey seeks arrest of crime boss at heart of video scandal

Turkey seeks arrest of crime boss at heart of video scandal
An arrest warrant has been issued for Sedat Peker, who has been releasing videos in which he accuses government officials of corruption.
2 min read
Sedat Peker was preparing to release his eight video [Getty]

Turkey has issued a new arrest warrant for a convicted crime boss who fled prosecution abroad and then began publishing videos alleging grave crimes committed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's allies.

The chief public prosecutor's office in Ankara issued the arrest warrant for Sedat Peker on Wednesday as he prepared to issue the eighth in a series of YouTube videos that have received millions of views each.

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.

Peker, 49, began recording his videos after police raided his home in Turkey in April and allegedly mistreated his family.

He says he now lives in the United Arab Emirates.

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."