Istanbul (AFP) – Turkey’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines, on Wednesday denied allegations of arms shipments to unknown groups in Nigeria, following a report to that effect by AFP.
The French news agency sourced its story from a tape posted on YouTube, quoting Mehmet Karatas, an assistant executive of the airline, allegedly telling Mustafa Varank, an advisor to Erdogan, that he feels guilty over the airline’s arms shipment to Nigeria.
“Turkish Airlines, in accordance with company policy, does not ship arms to countries … where there is a power vacuum or conflict,” the airline said in a statement sent to AFP.
“There have been no arms shipments from Turkey … to (Nigeria),” it added.
In a tape posted on YouTube on Tuesday, Mehmet Karatas, an airline executive, allegedly tells Mustafa Varank, an advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that he feels guilty over the national flag carrier’s arms shipments to Nigeria.
“I do not know whether these (weapons) will kill Muslims or Christians. I feel sinful,” Karatas is allegedly heard saying.
The leaked audio tape has the potential to harm the airline’s image — which is 49 percent state-owned and is in an aggressive push to become a global player.
It is the latest in a series of recordings implicating Erdogan and his aides in corruption and other abuses of power ahead of crucial local polls on March 30.
The Turkish strongman has dismissed most of the tapes as “vile” fakes put together by rivals.