Business tycoon Akın Ipek exiled from Turkey says Erdogan is bent on hunting him down

Akin Ipek says his address and car number plates have been disclosed. Hundreds of death threats have been made against Turkish business giant Akin Ipek, leading him to fear for his fate despite taking refuge in the British capital, The National UAE stated in a recent article.

Mr Ipek has been harassed and followed by pro-government journalists who leaked his address and car registration numbers on the internet.

People claiming to be newsagents have showed up at his door only to covertly record and photograph him. “I took hundreds of death threats after that and even if somebody killed me now, nobody is going to who did it because it’s public information,” he said.

“You cannot be a spy and a journalist at the same time, you have to select one of them. What you are doing right now is spying and it is illegal, a crime,” he says he told the visitors.

The media and mining tycoon was a billionaire player for most of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan rule and also opened a newspaper. Mr Ipek says he was the second biggest taxpayer in Turkey before local authorities seized his assets and closed his newspapers in September 2015. He had been caught up in the purge of critics of the Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that only worsened after a failed 2016 coup.

Ankara accuses Mr Ipek of being close to the Gulen Movement, banned by Turkish authorities and accused of being behind the coup attempt – charges he denies. 

He has been in London with his wife and children since August 2015 and successfully fought off a Turkish extradition request described as “politically motivated” by the judge.

Left behind are his brother, who is facing a 90-year jail sentence, and his mother, who can “hardly stand up.”

Mr Ipek once had good relations with the AKP Party and Mr Erdogan.

The two last spoke before 2013 when the-then prime minister called up Mr Ipek asking for him to fire a journalist at one his newspapers.

“Erdogan doesn’t give people (an) option. He says you are by my side or you are my enemy,” said Mr Ipek.

“If somebody asked me to attack someone that I don’t know and his family even today after all this suffering that I’ve been through I couldn’t do it,” he added.

The major turning point in the businessman’s eyes was the 2013 Turkish corruption scandal that laid bare the dealings of senior members of the AKP Party. He felt the government expected newspapers and TV stations to attack those who had uncovered the corruption.

The “media cannot sweep that kind of news under the carpet, that’s not possible. But at that time the government expected me to take my position next to the government and attack people I don’t know.”

Criticism was good for the government, says Mr Ipek, but instead it took a hard line stance expecting “100 per cent obedience and unconditional, unlimited love.”

Mr Ipek’s conglomerate Koza Ipek Holding was seized by Turkish authorities amid terror financing claims. The businessman refutes the charges and scoffs at accusation of financial mismanagement.

He would also “like to know what happened” during “black and dark” days of the July 2016 failed coup attempt against the Mr Erdogan’s government. Mr Ipek wants to understand the apparent vicious crackdown against supposed coup plotters amid images of torture.

Still, despite “every drop in our group” being affected, there remains an inkling of hope still.

“Sooner or later, I am sure things are going to be normal again. Turkey is going to go back to a legal system, constitution, international law.”

Source: The National UAE

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