American companies reject claims that they proved telephone recording is fake

fter the release of scandalous voice recordings that purportedly show Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son Bilal Erdoğan discussing how to “get rid of” large sums of money cached in their homes and those of their relatives, pro-government media sources alleged that two American audio companies had found the conversations to be spliced together from other sources — but these companies have rejected the stories as lies.
John Marshall Cheary III, founder and CEO of John Marshall Media Inc., issued a statement on his company’s Facebook account on Wednesday denying the claims of some Turkish pro-government media that the telephone recordings had been proven to be fake after technical analysis by his company. He said his company has not issued any opinions on any Turkish-language digital recordings, calling the document a blatant forgery that is signed with the company name “J Ou Productions” and has a John Marshall Media business card stapled to the top.
 
“This is not official JMM letterhead. And the fact that the company in the signature and the business card stapled to the top are different companies makes this an obvious attempt at deception,” Cheary III said in the statement.

John Marshall Media has not performed any technical analysis on the recordings, and the company is not a forensic audio specialist, he said. The manager said the company is considering litigation against the person who impersonated one of their employees. “To those news agencies that reprinted this obvious forgery: Shame on you,” Cheary III concluded.

The other company, Kaleidoscope Sound, mentioned in the stories as having provided technical evidence that the recordings had been spliced together, also issued a Facebook message explaining that their report could only determine whether the recording had been edited or was a continuous conversation. Owner Randy Crafton said that making any determinations beyond this “would certainly require at least a native Turkish speaker.”

“We are a commercial recording studio that specializes in recording, editing, and mixing audio, mostly music. We have no credentials as audio forensics specialists, just our experience as audio professionals,” Crafton said.

“Please do not construe this to be an indication of innocence or guilt on anyone’s part; it is simply an answer to the question asked,” he added. Those who say the recording is genuine admit they are an audio file containing five different conversations that took place at different locations over 26 hours.

Erdoğan rejected claims that the recordings are genuine in a written statement and later at public rallies, claiming that they had been “dubbed” and edited. In the speeches, however, he acknowledged that his encrypted phones had been tapped, which has been perceived as a confession that the conversations actually occurred. Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Işık, who is responsible for the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), seconded Erdoğan, saying, “He feels that the recordings were manipulated.” He also stated that five TÜBİTAK employees in charge of the encrypted phones had been sacked.

Evidence of the recordings’ authenticity abounds, however. On Wednesday, audio engineers and specialists released analyses they had conducted in professional labs to verify that the talks had not been edited or spliced and that the voices actually belong to the prime minister and his son. Engineer Kıvanç Kitapçı, former Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy and IT specialist Tacidar Seyhan, the studios Babajim Records and STD, among many others, found no trace of doctoring in the recordings.

US-based publisher McClatchy published an article on Thursday on its webpage about the controversy over the recordings’ authenticity, including technical opinions from an expert on encrypted communications. Joshua Marpet, managing principal of cyber analytics firm Guarded Risk, told McClatchy that the recordings appear to be genuine. The only apparent “montage,” Erdoğan’s term for the recordings, was the combination of the five different conversations into one audio file, said Marpet, who was reported to have testified in court on the validity of computer evidence in Turkish criminal cases. He said there was no sign that the individual conversations had been edited. “If it’s fake, it’s of a sophistication that I haven’t seen,” he said.

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