Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan dismissed a report that he was suffering from terminal cancer and had two years to live, saying on Wednesday that God and only God knew when anyone would die.
A Turkish newspaper on Tuesday published a leaked email from security analysis company Stratfor, that included a report that Erdogan had colon cancer, but officials said the prime minister was in good health.
In a speech to officials from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan did not comment specifically on his health but attacked those behind the report.
It is just God and only God who knows how long each of us will live, he said. When the time of death comes, you cannot move it back or forth by an hour.
Those who fall for rumours and calculate the time we have left in this world are not only impudent but in a state of insolence, said Erdogan, who has resumed a busy schedule after two operations and appeared in strong voice.
Cancer rumours started after Erdogan had surgery on his lower intestine in November. They did not gain media prominence until Tuesday when the Taraf newspaper reported the email leak on its front page.
An Erdogan aide contacted by Reuters following the Taraf report dismissed the Stratfor email as speculation and gossip.
The prime minister's health is very good, the aide said.
The email, between two colleagues at U.S.-based Stratfor, which provides geopolitical analysis to paying subscribers, was released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks as part of a massive leak of the company's correspondence.
The email said doctors had removed a 20cm (8 inch) part of Erdogan's colon during the first operation on November 26. He had a second procedure last month.
The prognosis is not looking good, though. The surgeon said they were estimating 2 years for him, said a copy of the December 10 email accessed on the Internet.
The report was based on intelligence from a source who obtained the information from an old classmate friend of the lead surgeon who operated on Erdogan. The source, who describes himself as an energy security analyst who once worked for the prime minister's office, said the report was a lie.
The chief surgeon who operated on Erdogan also said the cancer report was a complete lie, Taraf said.
Erdogan, 58, returned to work less than two weeks after each operation and he is scheduled to resume overseas trips this month with visits to Korea, Germany and Iran.
The prime minister won a third consecutive term at an election last June and dominates Turkish politics. Even critics fear the void he would leave if forced to quit as many see the ruling AK Party falling into factionalism.
There has been no discernible market reaction to the rumours - the lira, bonds and shares have all rallied this year.
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Andrew Heavens)