Skip to main content

Turkey: Erdogan adviser claims foreign chefs are actually spies

Yigit Bulut warns 'unsuspecting and simple Turkish people' are telling secrets to cooks wandering the country
Yigit Bulut has gained a strong profile in Turkey because of his controversial comments (AFP)

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Foreign TV chefs are agents collecting secret information from unsuspecting and simple Turkish people, a chief adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned.

“Please pay attention," said Yigit Bulut, one of Erdogan's chief economic advisers to Erdogan during a TV appearance on Wednesday night. "It is foreigners making all these food shows in Turkey. What is the intention behind the English, Germans, Italians and French, making food shows on Turkish channels and visiting villages in Anatolia and Thrace?

“They are building a database. We are sleeping again. Let nobody call this a conspiracy theory.”

'Our people are simple. They open their doors to those friends. They tell them all the secrets. They show them everything'

- Yigit Bulut, economic adviser

Bulut continued: “Our people are simple. They open their doors to those friends. They tell them all the secrets. They show them everything. Where the military units are, where the radar is, where the ammunitions depot is, how to enter the village, how to exit the village...”

He warned the people of Turkey to not be so simple and suggested that the chefs “be made to make studio-based shows” if they like the cuisine so much.

Food shows on Turkish television enjoy moderate success but most have a local flavour and home-grown chefs and presenters.  Shows translated into Turkish featuring celebrity foreign chefs are also shown on private subscription channels.
 

Bulut: Erdogan at risk of telekinesis death plot

It's not the first time that Bulut has found himself in the spotlight for his controversial comments.

Writing in his regular column in the Star newspaper in October, Bulut suggested that the influence of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen was so widespread that there could have been a "deep connection" with those behind the 9/11 attacks. Turkish authorities accuse Gulen and his followers of being behind the failed coup attempt on 15 July.

Bulut said that the Gulenist movement - called FETO by the Turkish government - had more than 230 schools in the US and that Americans who graduate from them might take up roles in the military.

“Let’s go back and ask: ‘Can there be a deep connection between the FETO terrorist network and 11 September?'" he said. "What do you say, is it possible?

'Until I die, until I am shot or hanged, nobody can touch the elected president of this country. There are millions of citizens like me'

- Yigit Bulut, economic adviser

“Now I ask those among the American public who are our friends and brothers: What if one of the organisations behind 11 September is still on your soil? What if they continue to use the schools on your territory to plant subconscious seeds?”

During the Gezi Park protests in 2013, shortly before he was appointed as chief adviser, Bulut said there was "a constant push for Mr Erdogan’s death through telekinesis, remote influence and many other efforts."

And in 2015 he created a media storm when he announced on live television that he had loaded guns at the ready and was willing to use them against Erdogan’s enemies.

“I have two licensed pistols and I have collected hundreds of bullets over the years thanks to my legal rights," he said, speaking live on state broadcaster TRT. "Until I die, until I am shot or hanged, nobody can touch the elected president of this country. There are millions of citizens like me."

Bulut is a time bomb, warns fellow adviser

But Bulut's comments have caused unease among other key supporters of Erdogan.

In October a group called Redhack hacked the email account of the energy minister, Berat Albayrak, who is also Erdogan’s son-in-law

A leaked email revealed that Mustafa Varank, another Erdogan adviser, was purportedly critical of Bulut and begged for him not to be allowed on TV.

In the email, Varank allegedly described Bulut as a “time bomb that needs to be removed from screens" and warned that the things he says exceed what is suitable for an adviser.