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Sedat Peker: Mobster says UAE asked him to stop videos criticising Turkey

Sedat Peker says Emirati officials asked him to stop broadcasting critical YouTube videos amid a rapprochement between Abu Dhabi and Ankara
A video by Sedat Peker plays on a phone in Istanbul on 26 May 2021. Millions of Turks have been glued to their screens, watching the mobster tell wild stories about international drug smuggling (AFP)
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Istanbul

Officials in the United Arab Emirates have asked Dubai-based Turkish mobster Sedat Peker to stop broadcasting videos that criticise Turkey, Peker said in remarks published by a local Turkish outlet on Friday.

Peker has captivated tens of millions of people in Turkey in recent months by broadcasting a slew of corruption allegations against top officials - including Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and businessmen close to the government - on YouTube.

Peker stopped broadcasting on YouTube in June after Emirati officials took him in for questioning, around the same time that Ankara and Abu Dhabi were holding reconciliation talks.

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Peker initially said that he stopped posting videos because Emirati officials had told him there were a number of death threats against him and he should stop what he was doing on YouTube.

While Peker continued posting on Twitter, his influence has greatly diminished since. Now, the mobster has changed his narrative on why he has not released new YouTube videos, just as Turkish officials have declared the beginning of a “new era” between Abu Dhabi and Ankara.

“UAE officials told me that I wouldn’t be able to shoot videos that badmouth other countries,” Peker said in an interview with HalkTV on Friday. “Here is a foreign country and I’m bound by its laws. I will use every opportunity to the fullest extent to shoot videos.”

Peker said the Turkish government cancelled his passport, but that he had obtained a three-year business visa to the UAE after establishing that “there isn’t an Interpol issued red notice about me, and no one could kick me out of this country unless I commit a crime,” he said.

The Turkish government officially requested Peker's extradition in June, but the UAE has not responded to the demand.

“There are many businessmen and heads of states that are at odds with their own country and live in the UAE," Peker told HalkTV.

After a string of Emirati gestures and open calls, Turkey and the UAE conducted months-long talks through their respective intelligence agencies earlier this year.

The talks eventually secured a high-level meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UAE National Security Advisor Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan last month, during which the latter promised to make large investments in Turkey.

Erdogan last week also talked to the de-facto Abu Dhabi ruler Mohammed bin Zayed, a first since 2012.