Süleyman Özışık, a pro-government journalist who was revealed back in May to be a mediator between notorious Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, has quit his job, local media reported on Friday.
The development was announced on Thursday on YouTube by his brother Hadi Özışık, also a journalist close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and owner of the Internethaber news website.
“You have been asking me ‘Where’s Süleyman Özışık?’ I’ll tell you where he is. Süleyman Özışık has quit. Everybody he stood by during hard times and for whom he became everyone’s target turned their backs on him just because Sedat Peker talked about him,” Özışık said in a short video.
Peker, the head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups who lives in Dubai and is the subject of an outstanding warrant in Turkey, has been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations and drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials on social media since early May.
Soylu and his shadowy relations with the mafia have been a hot topic in the Turkish media ever since the mob boss started making scandalous claims regarding the minister, who became Peker’s main target primarily because he ordered a police raid on the gangster’s house in April when his wife and three children were home alone and because he called Peker “a dirty mafia leader” in a tweet.
Peker on May 18 released two videos on Twitter showing his phone calls with Hadi Özışık as proof of his claim that the journalist and his brother mediated between him and Soylu in order to stop him from making new revelations through videos on YouTube.
Peker released the footage of one of his video calls with Özışık with a note saying, “My dear friends: The Hadi-Süleyman Özışık brothers … have denied that they mediated between Süleyman Soylu and me. … I don’t play tricks on anyone; however, I don’t let anyone disgrace me, either.”
In the video, Özışık tells Peker that it would cause him trouble if his name were to be heard in one of his videos, asking him to remove that part of the video where Peker mentions him. The mob boss explains that he used his name because he was the one who went to see Soylu when the issue regarding Peker’s revelations on social media came up.
Özışık then says it was not him but his brother Süleyman Özışık who went to meet with Soylu, thus admitting that the journalist acted as a mediator between the minister and the mafia leader.
The mafia leader has formerly claimed that it was connections to his family that had helped Soylu rise through the ranks of the right-wing True Path Party (DYP) before he joined the ruling AKP in 2012 at the invitation of then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He also claimed that Soylu helped him avoid police prosecution by notifying him that an investigation was being prepared against him, before he fled Turkey in early 2020. The mob boss further said Soylu previously told people that he and Erdoğan “liked” Peker.