i'm babita sharma with bbc news. our top story — reports for the us senate say russia used every social media platform to help elect donald trump in the 2016 presidential election. researchers found that tens of millions of americans were exposed to russian—backed propaganda and warned that social media sites could now pose a threat to democracy. malaysia has filed criminal charges against goldman sachs, in connection with the 1mdb financial scandal. the us bank has been under scrutiny for its role in helping to raise money for the investment fund. it says the charges are "misdirected". and there's more drama in british politics. the prime minister theresa may has told parliament it will not get a vote on her brexit deal until the third week of january. the main opposition leader jeremy corbyn has tabled a motion no confidence in her for delaying the vote. that's all. stay with bbc world news. now on bbc news, hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk,
i'm stephen sackur. the murder of the journalist jamal khashoggi inside the saudi consulate in istanbul put turkey at the heart of a story about a shocking abuse of power and a total disregard for human rights. turkey was the accuser, saudi arabia the accused. and yet, for all of its appeals to the international community, the turkish government itself faces condemnation for violations of basic human rights. my guest today is gulnur aybet, senior adviser to president erdogan. when it comes to respect for universal rights and norms, how much authority does turkey have? theme music plays. gulnur aybet, welcome to hardtalk.
thank you. let us start with the case, the shocking, horrible case of jamal khashoggi. is there more that turkey intends to say and to do to getjustice forjamal khashoggi? well, there's an investigation that's still going on and the turkish authorities have stated that as more evidence becomes available, as the investigation continues, they're prepared to share it with the rest of the world, including the saudi authorities. and they've shared all the evidence they have had so far from the investigation, with the saudis and a number of other countries. but there's more, isn't there? well, there could be.
we don't know. there's still an investigation going on. do you feel, from what has been said so far, that the turkish authorities behind all this — and of course, this involves the intelligence services, as well as the judicial and policing authorities — have they handled this with due care and due process? absolutely, i think they handled it very well, considering that this incredibly horrible crime was committed in the consulate of another country, in istanbul. i mean, it's incredible the way that it's happened, but i think, you know, turkey has handled this really well in the sense that they've kept their bilateral relationship with saudi arabia separate to the investigation of the murder. you say that the most senior people in the chain of command should be held to account for what happened. is it the current thinking in ankara, your boss and the turkish government, that ultimately, the buck stops with crown prince mohammad bin salman? well, we haven't named any names.
we just want to make sure that this investigation is a thorough one and it's not covered up. and in fact, the president also said that it would be in the interests of saudi arabia to reveal everything and whoever was behind this... see, i only ask that question because it was very interesting to me that at the end of november, so just a couple of weeks ago, the saudi foreign minister said on the record that turkish authorities had told saudi officials that they were not directly accusing mbs, as he's called, the crown prince, of responsibility. turkish authorities and also the president have also said that they — it is not their intention to damage or harm the state of saudi arabia or the royal family in any way. they just want a thorough investigation of this murder, and they believe that it would be in the best interests of saudi arabia to also co—operate, which they haven't done so far. you say the investigation continues. you've hinted that there may be more information to come out. why has turkey not made a formal request to the united nations
for an independent third—party, international investigation? i believe that this is being considered at the moment, and... he disappeared at the beginning of october, we're now into the middle of december... there has... ..why are you still considering something which many people in the international community, including leading human rights organisations, like human rights watch, and indeed the un high commissionerfor human rights, michelle bachelet, they say is absolutely crucial to getting to the truth. but the crime happened in turkey so obviously, first, it had to be investigated thoroughly by our authorities, and we wanted to make sure that the saudis would actually co—operate. the saudi chief prosecutor came to istanbul, he met with our chief prosecutor but he didn't
hand over any evidence, he didn't share any... turkish said that he hadn't co—operated. sorry? turkish officials said there wasn't sufficient cooperation... exactly, that's what i'm alluding to. so he came and there wasn't any cooperation. he didn't offer anything, and he just went back. so we didn't get the cooperation that we wanted to from saudi arabia. we're still hoping that they do come up with some cooperation, otherwise we are going to go to the un for an international investigation and the un have already welcomed this so... the thing is... ..so i think that's where things are going if the saudis don't co—operate. well, it just looks like turkey isn't so keen. for all of the noise you've made about the killing ofjamal khashoggi, it seem turkey isn't so keen on getting the un and the international community involved... no, that's not true, you haven't listened to... here is the view of the head of human rights watch middle east — she's called sarah leah whitson — she said this the other day, "the main thing holding up an international investigation, led by the secretary general of the un, right now, is the lack of a formal written request from ankara, from the turkish government." yes but you see... it would be so easy for you to do it. the investigation has to continue in turkey first.
is it because you don't want human rights investigators, including the un human rights commissioner, on your territory... no, that's not true... no, no. ..because once they're there, they might see things that you don't want them to see? no, that's rubbish. turkey has been investigating this crime very thoroughly and they have shared all the evidence with all the other countries concerned, and anyone who's asked for it. they have been very transparent in their investigation and that they will go to the un if this matter is not resolved with any further cooperation from saudi arabia. you obviously haven't listened to the remarks made by our foreign minister when he said that the matter could be taken to the un very soon. well, i'm just wondering what the delay is, frankly... well, obviously it's a long investigation into a murder... is there any message from the united states to turkey, saying, you know what, there can be improvements in our relationship in other areas, if you just back off this a little bit? because we know donald trump has made his decision. he said the other day, he said maybe the crown prince knew, maybe he didn't but, frankly, he said it would be foolish for the united states to begin to question its strategic partnership with the saudi arabia, so maybe the americans don't want you to go further...
this is a crime committed on turkish soil and it is being investigated thoroughly. what another country thinks of that crime is not really any concern of ours at this stage. we just share the evidence with them. it's up to them what they want to make of it. well, let me just ask you very directly, has the united states put any pressure on turkey not to ask for a un—backed independent investigation? not that i know of, and i don't think there has been any. let's turn to that picture that i was alluding to, that maybe turkey wouldn't be too thrilled to have a whole host of human rights investigators on its territory. there is, is there not, a profound irony in the fact that turkey, which has championed the rights ofjamal khashoggi's family to know the truth, has talked about the criminality of murdering a journalist, turkey also happens to be
the country that is the world's leader in imprisoning journalists... where are you getting yourfigures from? ..do you see that? where are you getting yourfigures from? the committee to protect journalists, one of the most respected international organisations working on behalf of the safety of journalists. i've actually looked at a lot of figures from different organizations, including amnesty, and the numbers actually contradict each other. so... that's the first thing i want to say. and the second thing i want to say — let me just finish — is that in turkey, whoever‘s been imprisoned, when you look at the numbers of these people that these organisations claim are journalists. when a person's arrested in turkey, they have to fill out a form and they can put under "profession" whatever their profession is. now, there are people who've written in that form that their profession is journalist, but they're not necessarily journalists. also in those numbers we have found out that they have included people who were arrested way back in the 90s for ordinary crimes, such as domestic violence, and they‘ re included in the numbers as well. in fact, i think in amnesty... reporters without borders, another respected organization protecting journalist around the world says that right now, currently, there are around 150... around...
yes, so it might be a few more, it might be a few less. i got this other number the other day — 120 plus, what does that mean? 150 journalists... 121? 3000? i just wondered about... you're the senior adviser to the president, if you cared about this, you might want to look at the figures yourself... i do care about... so what is the figure you're going to give me, ‘cause we can then match it against what the independent international investigators are saying. the numbers are flawed... how many? there are different numbers... how many journalists are in prison today? there are no journalists in prison today... no journalists? because they're not. so all of these organisations, the world press freedom index, which right now has turkey... let me just finish — you don't let me finish my answer. well, that was your answer... when ijust said there are no journalists, there are no people convicted ofjournalism, for what they've written or what they've done as journalists. they are convicted under other crimes. so you're telling me there are dozens and dozens ofjournalists in prison, but all of them are in prison for reasons entirely unconnected to their professional lives? yes, yes.
and you expect me and the international community to believe that? well, that's up to you to believe it, but that's the fact. you see the fact that journalists. .. if you look at... ..are so endangered in turkey fits with so much else, so much other evidence suggesting that your government has declared some sort of a war on civil society. you were an academic before you were hired by the president to work for him, you know better than anyone that hundreds and hundreds of academics... hundreds and hundreds? ..have been put in prison. hundreds, is that the number you're giving us now? well, if you want, i'll give you the figure that all the human rights organisations give, which is over 100,000 civilians have been imprisoned for their political beliefs in the last three years. ok, let's look at the number of academics. now, i came from a university where i was working in a department where a lot of people, actually everybody in my department, was very strongly opposition. none of them have lost theirjobs, none of them have been prosecuted
for their beliefs, and they were very much against the president, some of them, so that has nothing to do with that. let me read to you an extraordinary letter that was published by a former academic colleague of yours, florian bieber. i don't know if you saw it at the time because it was written in 2017, but it still seems to me incredibly relevant. he says — directed to you personally, somebody that you know — he says, "you have become an apologist for an authoritarian regime. i cannot remain silent as you advise, promote and defend an autocrat. erdogan‘s government has dismissed thousands of your fellow academics. this includes over 100 who lost theirjobs and have been arrested at your own university, yildiz technical university. you have advanced your career on the back of massive human rights violations and it is unforgivable." signed by "your former friend". well, you know, i mean,
florian obviously had an issue with my newjob and he is perfectly welcome to express his opinions, but i can tell you that a lot of academics that i know in the west... but he's just shot so many holes in what you told me previously. no, but he's just — this is just a piece that he's written in his own blog. it's a piece he has written to you directly. i mean i really did not take any notice of that... well, i didn't take any notice of it because obviously he had a real issue about what is going on in turkey. he is very ill informed about what's going on in turkey right now. and he really has an issue with thejob i'm doing and he made a personal attack publicly, which i thought was not becoming of an academic and it was very ugly, and in fact, a lot of my academic friends who do criticise the turkish government but who are still friends with me, actually shamed florian for writing this because they thought it was immoral to do so. so i mean, i think that if he had an issue, he could have told me personally. so i'm really surprised that you brought this piece of trash up here on this programme...
piece of trash? yes, it is a piece of trash, because it's very vindictive in the sense that someone is actually attacking me personally, over something that i'm doing at the moment. he should have been able to say it to my face, but anyway... you talk about ugly sentiments... no, no, you're actually twisting the question, no, no... let me ask you about another sentiment that we heard recently... you are twisting the question now, because you actually read that out and ifeel that i have to respond to that. i'm more than happy for you to respond to it... yeah, well, i mean... ..because you claimed to me that absolutely no academics that were in your circle had suffered in any way from this crackdown. he says... yes, they haven't. he says that dozens of them have lost their jobs at your own former university. they haven't, they haven't. well, in my former university, before i was appointed there, i believe that some academics were arrested or detained or lost theirjobs, i don't know — either one of the three —
because they signed this petition that glorified terrorism. now, we have to ask ourselves why this is happening. you know, you never ask why. have you ever been to a coup trial? i tell you what appears to be the message from the turkish government... have you been to a coup trial? have you seen the relatives? have you seen the relatives of people crying in court forjustice? do you know how long they've been waiting? your message to me is that all of these people, whether it be the hundreds ofjournalists or the thousands of academics... do you know how many people died in the hands of the pkk? do you think it's all right to glorify terrorism? are you telling me that all of these people are terrorists? they are supporting one organisation or another, otherwise they would not be in trouble. let's talk about one specific case. let's talk about 0sman kavala, who is a turkish businessmen and philanthropist... yes. 0k. he is widely regarded in turkey
as a man who is trying to build bridges in turkish society, in particular with the kurdish community, but far beyond the kurdish community. he was arrested more than a year ago. he spent months and months in prison without any charges being laid. in the end, the council of europe intervened and dunja mijatovic, who is the commissioner for human rights at the council, said, "if you want to talk about an independent judiciary, about the importance of the rule of law, you simply cannot keep a person in prison without indictment for a year." how can turkey defend all of this? well, ok, the kavala case is still going on, so it wouldn't be appropriate for me to discuss a legal process that is still going on. but regarding the length of time, i think we shouldn't just focus on one particular case. i think there is problem with the judiciary with regards to the processing of cases,
and the reason for that is because the gulen movement infiltrated the judiciary and all other state institutions so thoroughly, but i think they messed up the judiciary more than any other institution. it's notjust about process. it's also about attitude. no, it is about process. how did you feel when your boss, the president, in terms of that case, described him as a man who was backed by that famous hungarian jew, george soros. well, he is backed by soros, isn't he? i know. but the words, famous hunagarianjew, soros also accused by people viktor 0rban of being behind conspiracies against hungary. you always take what the president says out of context. what's the context then? he is famous, isn't he? of course he's famous! would you deny he isjewish? i'm not interested in denying if he isjewish, i'm interested in why your president, president erdogan, to say that kavala is associated with the famous hungarian due. because he is...
what on earth does that have to do with your claims that he is, in some sense, involved in terrorism inside turkey? unless you think george soros is financing terror inside turkey? well, the soros foundation, there are links, i believe, as far as my knowledge, again i cannot talk about the case and i'm not a legal expert, so i shouldn't really talk about the case, but i know the charges and these are over the newspapers. the charges basically are that the foundation that mr kavala was running is being charged with organising and funding the gezi protests of 2013 in an attempt to overthrow the government. now, of course he can deny the charges and defend himself accordingly, but these are the charges, right? yes, all right. and the foundation that he has, that is accused, is actually a foundation that is closely
affiliated with the soros foundation. so these are all facts. you call them facts, but mr kavala and george soros would deny everything you have presented. 0bviously they have no respect for the due process and judicial system in our country. no respect. no respect whatsoever in thejudicial process in another country. can't they respect the judicial system in turkey? you are an academic who spent years working in western universities, studying politics, do you understand that the way turkey's government is handing that case and so many others today is making more and more europeans convinced that any notion that turkey could ever be embraced in the european union has become absurd ? become impossible to imagine? you accept that, do you? no. i think turkey and europe have got very good relations with regards to the trade volume and with regards to the agreement that they have over the migration. turkey hosts 3.5 million refugees, it's doing more for human rights than any other country in the world.
it's the number one country in percentage of gdp giving humanitarian aid. how many refugees have a single european country taken from syria? back in september, angela merkel said, "the fact is now clear, turkey should not become a member of the eu." well, that's her opinion. she said, "i will speak to my eu colleagues to see if we can reach a joint position to end these succession talks." this is what the erdogan era has meant for turkey's relationship with the eu. did she repeat that after the election? you have to ask yourself that. why do i have to ask myself that? because she was using it for the election, i think. the notion... did she ask the same question? then once turkey held the court summit with germany, the leaders of germany and france and russia and bringing the small group over syria and the astana process in istanbul together, it was playing the forefront in international diplomacy and then mrs merkel and mr macron were very eager to co—operate with our president to talk to putin in istanbul
about the situation in syria. so you see, there's a bit of an inconsistency in the way european leaders are having a public discourse about turkey. they are not consistent in their approach towards turkey. what they are seeing is a turkey that flounts the wishes and demands of the european court of human rights. the european court of human rights is not being flounted, there is due process there as well. well, you in turkey have locked up one of the most significant opposition leaders in the country, the european court said that was entirely unacceptable, he should be released, turkey's just ignored them. well, no. well, yes. well, no, because once the european court of human rights issues something like that you have three months in order to reply and investigate. this is still going on, it's not a final decision, and then you can appeal. so it's not a final decision by the echr. we'll keep a watch on that, i guess the clocks ticking...
i do think you can say that and also, the person you mentioned, is being charged, as far as my knowledge is correct, over 30 different cases, and the echr ruling was only related to one of them. and the other cases that he's charged with, he actually incited people to go out on the streets, and a lot of violence was created and a lot of people were killed. he's responsible for that, including a 12—year—old boy. these are kurdish people who did not support the pkk. now, what about their human rights? you never ask about their human rights. a final thought, we are almost out of time, there is so much we could discuss, but you are an expert on foreign affairs in turkey, you give the president advice on foreign affairs. do you warn him that turkey is in grave danger of being very isolated? we can talk about europe, we can talk about the united states as well, where there's is a new stand—off over northern syria, with the pentagon issuing... who is being isolated? well, my contention is that from yourformer partners in europe and the united states, turkey is looking increasingly isolated. no. the president has a very good working relationship with the leaders of germany
and france and also with the british government. i am actually present in most of the meetings, he has in these delegations and he has a very good relationship with mr putin as well and they're cooperating over syria. he has managed to bring the leaders.. you mention syria, let's end on syria, in the last 2a hours a serious warning has been issued saying that it is alarmed from what it is about president erdogan about new turkish military operations in northern syria and there is grave concern in the pentagon about what turkey is about to do. turkey has always stated very honestly and clearly from the start, this should not come as a surprise to you or anybody else, that we will not allow a terror corridor on our 900km border with syria, ever. so you think the americans are, at the very least, turning a blind eye, do you, to the presence of what you would term terrorists, on your border? no, we don't term them
as terrorists, the pkk is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the united states and the european union. we're actually talking about the ypg in this case, part of a syrian democratic force that the americans are working with to combat is and jihadists in that area. we've always said to the americans, "if you want to combat daesh, work with us, don't arm a terrorist organisation," which is what they've done. then they promised us it is only for the raqqa operation, we will take the weapons back and give full account of them. they haven't done that yet. and you say you're not isolated by the west? we're not isolated because we're working with the americans right now in manbij, we're doing joint patrols together, does that sound like we're isolated? i'm just telling you, the pentagon in the last 2a hours has given a warning to turkey saying it is gravely concerned. of course, because we are very determined this is not going to happen, we're not going to have a terror corridor on our border. the americans can co—operate with us on that, if they wish to. and if they don't? well, i think they will eventually.
gulnur aybet, there is so much to talk about, but we have to end it there. there is, absolutely. thank you very much for being on hardtalk. thank you. we are looking at a spell of wet and windy weather at cross the uk. the strongest are always across the western parts, thanks to the area of low pressure. it is not one of the things coming in a straight line. there are pulses of energy running across the front and that brings uncertainty with the timings of our band of rain. nevertheless, if you
are heading outside of the next few hours, the winds will be picking up and we will see the rain getting into many western hours —— the carriers. in east, probably a dry start of the day that it is coolly. —— cooler. —— western areas. the pa ct —— cooler. —— western areas. the pact isobars tell you it will be windy. the winds could gust to 65 mph across parts of wales in south—west england, particularly around the coasts and the hills. these areas are also having heavy rain which could bring the risk of some localised flooding issues. it could keep —— it could clear eastern scotla nd could keep —— it could clear eastern scotland quickly but with showers following. however, the day will be dry across south—west england. east anglia. the odd passing showerheads. with the southerly winds blowing, it will be a mild day. two bridges between ten and 12 celsius. through tuesday evening, the rain will
finally arrive —— temperatures. it will slowly arrive across south—west england, north—east england, too. before clearing overnight. the low pressure is still there the middle pa rt pressure is still there the middle part of the week. what it means is we will have a blustery day on wednesday with a mixture of sunshine and showers but the showers will tend to merge to give some lengthy spells of rain at times across western and southern areas, leaving the best of any dry weather and sunshine to the north and east. it will start to get a bit cooler across the north of the uk but those temperatures getting close to normal for this time of year. still relatively mild in the south. the thursday, low pressure still on the charts but it is feeling so we went this dutch strong winds. —— such strong winds that mainly affect the north—west of the country although a few will clip into south—east england. sunny spells between the showers. to which is close to normal in the north. still relatively mild in the north. still relatively mild in the south. that's your latest weather. welcome to newsday on bbc. i'm mariko 0i, in singapore. the headlines:
reports for the us senate say millions of american voters were exposed to russian social media propaganda designed to help elect donald trump. a new development in one of the biggest financial scandals in history — malaysia files criminal charges against goldman sachs. i'm babita sharma, in london. also in the programme: president xijingping is due to address the nation, as china marks a0 years of economic reforms. and south korea's booming gaming industry, but is it becoming an addiction for the young generation? translation: i tried quitting by myself, but my friends kept seducing me back to the pc barn,