Contrary to his denials, the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is tied to the company accused of importing oil from ISIS, according to an archive of nearly 58,000 emails released by WikiLeaks.
Berat Albayrak, who is Turkey’s minister of energy, has insisted he has had no involvement in Powertrans, the company implicated in ISIS oil imports to Turkey.
The archive, however, shows Albayrak wielded authority in Powertrans beginning in 2012, which was when the government gave the company the right to transport oil.
There are nearly 30 exchanges between Albayrak and Betul Yilmaz, the human resources manager of Çalık Holding, a conglomerate for which Albayrak served as CEO. The emails show Yilmaz seeking approval from Albayrak regarding Powertrans personnel decisions, such as who to hire and approval of Powertrans salaries.
Albayrak, in one email, discusses with his lawyer publicly denying any connection with Powertrans.
The lawyer proposes a statement saying “my client no longer has ties with Powertrans.” Albayrak “corrects” him, saying “what do you mean no longer? I never had ties with this company!”
Albayrak, 38, has been a member of parliament since June 2015, and minister of energy and natural resources since November 2015.
One year ago, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told journalists in Moscow that Erdogan and his family were “involved” in ISIS’ illegal oil trade and personally benefitting from it.
“Turkey is the main destination for the oil stolen from its legitimate owners, which are Syria and Iraq,” he said. “Turkey resells this oil. The appalling part about it is that the country’s top political leadership is involved in the illegal business — President Erdogan and his family.”
Russian military officials displayed satellite images that they said showed columns of tanker trucks moving oil from installations controlled by ISIS in Syria and Iraq into Turkey.
“In the West, no one has asked questions about the fact that the Turkish president’s son heads one of the biggest energy companies, or that his son has been appointed energy minister,” Antonov said. “What a marvelous family business!”
The Albayrak archive also shows the government’s attempts to control the Turkish press and social media in favor of the ruling AKP party.
Turkey is still under a state of emergency in response to the July 15 coup attempt.
The emails originated with the Turkish hacktivist group Redhack, which announced Sept. 23 it had obtained Albayrak’s emails and would release them in three days unless the government released imprisoned leftists. When nothing was done, Redhack placed the archive on Google Drive and Dropbox. WikiLeaks said the Turkish government then censored normal Internet access to Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft Cloud and Github, and arrested a number of alleged Redhack suspects.
WikiLeaks said reportage on the archive has been previously hampered by censorship and lack of an authoritative, searchable archive.
WikiLeaks’ founder and editor Julian Assange said in a statement about the Albayrak emails that the “people of Turkey need a free media and a free Internet.”
“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,” he said.
“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 had a major impact on the presidential election campaign, publishing more than 50,000 emails from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.