Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal said on a CNN-Türk program hosted on Wednesday by journalist Ahmet Hakan that life in Italy had become unbearable for him because of Hakan Uzan, a Turkish businessman who filed a criminal complaint against him for money laundering in 2016.
Replying to a question as to why he failed to finish his doctorate at the University of Bologna, Bilal Erdoğan unexpectedly mentioned Uzan’s name for the first time and indirectly admitted that he could not remain in Italy.
The ensuing investigation had led President Erdoğan to condemn Italy. Erdoğan even said his son would be arrested if he went back there, arguing that he was a very bright person who was doing his studies at The Johns Hopkins University’s Bologna Center. Urging the Italian judges investigating his son to pursue the Italian Mafia instead, Erdoğan also threatened Italy, saying that bilateral relations would be seriously damaged.
Later, an Italian judge dropped the money laundering investigation into Bilal Erdoğan when complainant Uzan failed to appear in court to testify in early 2017.
The Italian judiciary accused Bilal Erdoğan of violating financial laws by bringing large amounts of cash with him to launder in Italy.
In 2016 access to the articles of several Turkish media outlets including BBC’s Turkish Service, which had brought the matter to the agenda, were blocked in Turkey.
Many people believe that Bilal Erdoğan moved to Italy in order to flee a corruption probe in 2013. Bilal was one of the prime suspects in Turkey’s largest corruption case, which came to public attention on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013. The twin investigations, which implicated the Erdoğan family as well, were covered up, and the prosecutors and police officers who were in charge of the investigations were subsequently dismissed and jailed.
Bilal Erdoğan and Tayyip Erdoğan were heard in leaked wiretapped telephone conversations discussing how to move large sums of cash out of their house.