The trafficking of women for sex and blackmailing opponents with recordings of sexual encounters have turned out to be among the tools that have helped then-prime minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan consolidate power in Turkey.
Erdoğan’s private collection of these kinds of tapes was long suspected, and a screenshot of him watching such a video of an opposition leader before his order to release it to social media confirmed it. Serious allegations that he was involved in the collection and distribution of private tapes to undermine his opponents, especially during the election campaigns, were raised by political leaders.
A recent revelation by fugitive Sedat Peker, a former ally of Erdoğan and a convicted mobster, to that effect helped identify one of the pimps used by the president to trap his opponents in sex schemes and leverage that information to get rid of political opposition.
According to Peker, Korkmaz Karaca, a 43-year-old member of the Presidential Economic Policy Council and a deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) responsible for local governance, was a women trafficker who arranged women for sex with politicians. Peker said Karaca reached out to him to silence the family of a young woman who was lured by Karaca to have sex with a politician.
Karaca’s inexplicable accumulation of wealth, quick rise in politics and abrupt shift to Erdoğan’s party from the center-left opposition lend credence to allegations that he was secretly recruited by Erdoğan when he was working with Deniz Baykal, the then-chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). He was alleged to be the person who gave Erdoğan a video recording of Baykal having sex in an extramarital affair.
The video clip of Baykal in flagrante delicto, posted online on May 10, 2010, sent shockwaves across the Turkish left, ahead of the CHP’s convention, slated for May 22. The CHP leader was hoping to go to the next party congress without any rivals. The video had, however, spoiled Baykal’s plans as he had to resign immediately, calling it a conspiracy and political plot by the government and putting the blame for the emergence of the scandalous video clip on Erdoğan’s ruling party. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu succeeded him as party leader.
Baykal’s lawyers tried to get the video banned and access to it on the Internet blocked but said they had received little or no help from the Erdoğan government. The videos were accessible online for days before the government stepped in to cut access. The videos were first uploaded onto metacafe.com and after a short period of time, the pro-Erdoğan Islamist Akit daily announced the existence of the videos on its website
What is more, the Sabah daily, owned by Erdoğan’s family, ran a headline story revealing the details of the apartment used by Baykal for the extramarital affair that was secretly recorded. The exclusive story, oddly lacking a byline, was apparently leaked by Erdoğan’s office and provided hitherto unknown details of the venue, how the secret camera was installed in an electrical outlet and how the affair was conducted. The publication of the story further implicated Erdoğan and his associates. Mysteriously, the story was deleted from Sabah’s online archive few years later in a move that was interpreted as a bid on the part of Erdoğan to cover his tracks.
Headline story published by the Sabah daily, owned by President Erdoğan’s family, on May 12, 2010 that provided new details of the main opposition leader’s affair. The story was later deleted:Sabah_headline_12_May_2010
In an audio recording uploaded onto YouTube in March 2014, Erdoğan instructed his aides to take a video of Baykal in flagrante delicto and disseminate the footage via the media and the Internet. “Unfortunately, these are very indecent and immoral things. There has to be an intervention here. The CHP has gone completely off the rails,” the voice attributed to Erdoğan is heard telling the people in the room. “We have such things in our hands, a document to be published. If I give it to you, how will you do it? … Will you pass it on to websites?” the person says, and after a pause, possibly a point at which parts of the original recording were edited out, he adds: “All right, let’s do it like this, then. Let me first save it to a hard disk. But the recording is very bad. Will he [Baykal] say it’s fake and the like?”
Baykal called the sound recording a “big satanic scenario,” implicating Erdoğan as the mastermind of the tape plot and wanted Erdoğan to immediately offer an explanation.
CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu also lashed out at Erdoğan, accusing him of being behind the sex tape scandal. In another statement, Kılıçdaroğlu said he saw the video of then-Prime Minister Erdoğan watching sex tapes of Baykal.
Erdoğan referred to Baykal’s tape at public rallies during the 2011 election campaign. He refuted Baykal’s defense that his actions were in the private sphere and were being used as a political tool, saying it was “not private, this is public, public.”
A similar incident also shook another opposition party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), at the time the second largest opposition party in parliament, when video clips showing some MHP deputies apparently cheating on their wives were posted online ahead of the 2011 general election. Many senior MHP officials had to resign and give up their nominations for seats in Parliament.
On May 20, 2011 MHP Deputy Chairmen Mehmet Ekici, Osman Çakır, Ümit Şafak and Ahmet Deniz Bölükbaşı, MHP Secretary-General Cihan Paçacı and MHP Presidency Council member Mehmet Taytak resigned from their positions and withdrew their candidacy for seats in parliament in the June 2011 elections. Earlier the same month, four other MHP politicians — Recai Yıldırım, Metin Çobanoğlu, Bülent Didinmez and İhsan Barutçu — resigned after the release of video clips that showed them having sex.
The MHP also blamed Erdoğan for it. The MHP’s then-Deputy Chairman Oktay Vural claimed Erdoğan was also involved in a plot to prepare and distribute sex tapes about a number of MHP deputies ahead of the election. Vural described Erdoğan as working as a “tape organizer and distributor.”
In March 2014 former former interior minister and Erdoğan associate Idris Naim Şahin, who resigned from the AKP after a 2013 corruption scandal that incriminated Erdoğan, also claimed some of the officials in the government and within the ruling AKP were engaged in efforts to produce sex tapes that implicated a number of deputies who had recently parted ways with the ruling party.
Erdoğan stuck to the same tactics in the 2015 election campaign when the media under his control started publishing stories about alleged sex tapes in February 2015. The stories, published simultaneously in several pro-Erdoğan papers, claimed that the transgressions of some 50 deputies in the main opposition CHP had been captured on video. CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu pointed the finger at Erdoğan, whom he said had set up a special operations team drawn from the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) to taint the opposition in the eyes of the public.
CHP spokesman Haluk Koç even said they knew the names of people including intel operatives tapped by Erdoğan to frame opposition deputies as political leverage.
Erdoğan even publicly admitted knowledge of such tapes by openly speculating about the existence of secret tapes involving former President Abdullah Gül, former Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç, former head of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) Muharrem Yılmaz, former Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and many others.
It is clear that the entrapment of political opponents through in-flagrante-delicto exposés was part of a series of tactics used by the Erdoğan regime to prevent any expression of dissent and to obstruct the activities of democratic forces.
In the meantime, those who helped Erdoğan in this sex tapes scheme were rewarded. In a surprise move President Erdoğan appointed Karaca as a member of the Presidential Economic Policy Council on October 8, 2018 after Karaca had served as an advisor to Baykal, Erdoğan’s one-time arch-foe, between 2010 and 2017. He had been with Baykal when the CHP leader gave up his leadership position but kept his seat as a member of the party and a lawmaker in parliament. The move was interpreted by many as a reward for Karaca’s services as a Trojan horse in the main opposition bloc. Erdoğan even brought him into party management at the AKP convention on March 23, 2021 by giving him a seat on the Central Decision and Administration Board (MKYK), the top executive body of the ruling party. A month later, he assumed the position of deputy chairman of the AKP responsible for local governance.
Document that shows Korkmaz Karaca’s appointment to ruling party management:Korkmaz_Karaca_appointement_AKP_Management
He was also alleged to have been involved in a network of shady business activities in various industries. Peker claimed that Karaca was also working with Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, who gifted him a luxury Audi, a claim Karaca acknowledged. Korkmaz, a former Erdoğan associate and wanted in the US on tax fraud charges, is currently under detention in Austria and awaiting the finalization of extradition requests filed by both Turkey and the US.
Peker also claimed that Karaca enriched himself with sizable fees he took under what he called consultancy work by fixing the private affairs of prominent Turkish businesspeople through his network in the government. He asked Karaca to explain how he was able to afford a luxury villa in Istanbul when he had been living in a regular apartment only four or five years earlier.
Erdoğan’s quest for the collection of sex tapes is believed to still be ongoing today, and there have been reports that his associates were using luxury hotels to entrap unsuspecting guests. One of them is reportedly the five-star luxury resort and hotel complex that used to be known as the Paramount in Turkey’s tourist destination of Bodrum. The resort was run by Cihan Ekşioğlu, an operative who was alleged to be an intermediary between the Turkish president’s ruling party and mafia groups in Turkey. The resort, taken over by Ekşioğlu allegedly under pressure and threats from its ailing owner, Atilla Uras, had also become a venue for money laundering for global mafia groups. A similar scheme is reportedly being run under its new ownership.
Turkish businessman Şaban Kayıkçı, also very close to President Erdoğan, is the owner of the resort today. According to trade registry filings, Kayıkçı established a hotel management firm under the name of Bodrum Otel İşletmeleri Anonim Şirketi (aka Duja) in October 2019. The hotel is run by the firm under the brand name of Be Premium Bodrum.
Presidential decree appointing Korkmaz Karaca as member of a member of Presidential Economic Policy Council:Presidential_order_Korkmaz_Karaca