Erdogan furious over personal allegations in Wikileaks


From Ibon Villelabeitia, Reuters:  Turkey’s prime minister accused U.S. envoys on Wednesday of slander after leaked cables said he had accounts in Swiss banks, painted him as an authoritarian who hates Israel and leads a government with Islamist influences.

The trove of diplomatic messages released by website WikiLeaks also reveal a complex and difficult relationship between the United States and its NATO ally, with U.S. diplomats casting doubts over Ankara’s Western orientation and at times clashing with Turkish officials over Iran’s nuclear program.

"The United States should call its diplomats to account," a furious Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said, breaking from Turkey’s initial position of playing down the impact on Turkish-U.S. relations of the disclosure of classified cables.

"The U.S. is responsible in first degree for the slanders its diplomats make with their incorrect interpretations. There are lies and incorrect information in those documents," he said.

A cable dated in 2004 by then-U.S. ambassador Eric Edelman said: "We have heard from two contacts that Erdogan has eight accounts in Swiss banks; his explanations that his wealth comes from the wedding presents guests gave his son and that a Turkish businessman is paying the educational expenses of all four Erdogan children in the U.S. purely altruistically are lame."

After Turkish officials first dismissed the leaks as gossip, Erdogan’s angry words may have been triggered by domestic politics ahead of elections in June. Turkey’s opposition party has called on Erdogan to explain the Swiss bank accounts claim.

Erdogan said on Wednesday he "did not have a penny in Swiss banks" and said he would resign if such accusations were proved. He suggested Turkey was considering taking legal action against some U.S. diplomats. A Turkish daily said U.S. President Barack Obama had called Erdogan and [President of Turkey Abdullah] Gul to try to smooth things over.  (photo: Reuters)

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