ISTANBUL — In a modern twist on a self-preservation tactic used by cautious kings and pharaohs, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is having his food tested before he eats — not by a human taster, though, but in the lab.
Mr. Erdogan’s physician, Dr. Cevdet Erdol, revealed this week that at least one of the thousand rooms in the president’s extravagant $600 million palace in Ankara, the capital, will hold a special food analysis laboratory to test the president’s meals for radioactive materials, poison or certain types of bacteria that could be used in an assassination attempt.
“We know that throughout the world, assassinations no longer take place through arms, but are secretly conducted by contaminating food with poisonous substances,” Dr. Erdol said in an interview published on Tuesday in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.
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The new presidential palace in Ankara, with a reported cost of nearly $350 million, has become a potent symbol for critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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He explained that five on-site experts were on duty for 14 hours a day, analyzing the president’s meals for suspicious substances and ensuring that all his nutritional needs are met.
Since leaving the prime minister’s office and becoming the country’s first directly elected president in August, Mr. Erdogan has faced criticism for his extravagance, with opponents denouncing him as an ever more authoritarian leader mimicking the habits of a sultan. The presidential palace he occupies is one of the world’s largest executive residences and more than 30 times as large as the White House.