Facebook Twitter

How a Turkish mafia boss became a YouTube sensation

Because anyone can become anything on the internet

SHARE How a Turkish mafia boss became a YouTube sensation
A man talks to his wife over breakfast in Istanbul, while watching on a tablet Sedat Peker, a Turkish fugitive crime boss on a video.

Alparslan Atas, 41, left, gestures as he talks to his wife Gulistan, 38, over breakfast at their home in Istanbul, while watching on a tablet Sedat Peker, a Turkish fugitive crime boss on a video, Sunday, June 6, 2021.

Associated Press

From 1990s mafia boss to 2020s media sensation, Sedat Peker has disrupted domestic politics in Turkey with his series of tell-all videos. The videos have accused Turkish politicians and other high profile individuals of everything from drug trafficking to arms dealing to murder to corruption, reports The Associated Press.

  • Peker has released nine videos from exile, according to Arab News.
  • The videos have been watched over 100 million times, said Bianet, a Turkish newspaper.
  • On June 14, Peker will meet U.S. President Joe Biden at the NATO summit, reported Arab News.

None of the accusations have been substantiated, said Al Jazeera. However, amid the ongoing erosion of public trust in Turkish institutions, the videos have shaken the country.

  • Turkey is also struggling with an economic downturn, ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and sea snot invasion, said the AP.

Who is Sedat Peker?

Peker is a 49-year-old mafia leader and former pro-government supporter. He rose to prominence as a gangster in the 1990s with his tactics of “extortion and violence,” reported Al Jazeera. Released from jail in 2014, Peker has been in and out of prison since age 17, said the AP.

  • In 2019, Peker fled Turkey to avoid prosecution, spending his exile in Western Europe and the United Arab Emirates, said Bianet.
  • He planned to return in April but could not because of an investigation that arrested 60 of his associates, reported the AP.

Peker began his tell-all videos in May as a way to “settle scores,” said the AP.

How did Peker become an internet sensation?

Peker’s 90-minute, tell-all videos release every Sunday to an eager Turkish public. His accusations have targeted high-profile politicians, media figures and businessmen of ruling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party, said the AP. Some accusations have implicated Peker himself.

  • According to the AP, Peker said in a recent video, “They ask me why I am doing it ... at first, I did it out of anger, I expected an apology ... Now, I don’t know why I am doing it ... I feel like doing it.”
  • Peker says he will bring down his enemies with a “tripod and a phone camera,” according to Al Jazeera.

Opposition groups have latched onto the videos to demand legal investigations of Peker’s claims. The videos have also resonated with a Turkish public that increasingly demands transparency and accountability amidst government corruption, said the AP.

  • Turkey has issued a new warrant for Peker’s arrest, said the AP.
  • All those targeted have denied the accusations, the AP reported.

Peker says he will release a video about Erdogan after meeting with Biden later this month, reported Bianet.