July 7, 2016

Court Tosses Turkey's Human Rights Suit Against Fethullah Gulen

Jonathan Tung

A human rights violation lawsuit brought against the reclusive Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen has been dismissed by U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani in Pennsylvania, following the determination that plaintiffs failed to plead their case with sufficient particularity. Further, the court felt that forum non conveniens applied.

Government-Funded Legal Suit

The Turkish government-funded suit against Fethullah Gulen was one single part of a crackdown campaign brought against the cleric for his conduct and statements in his native Turkey.

The main aggressor is Gulen's one time friend and current President of Turkey, Recep Erdogan. The complaint alleged that Gulen inveigled government friends to specifically target spiritual opponents based on trumped up charges. It was claimed that sympathizers and followers of Gulen planted evidence, conducted illegal wiretaps, and illegally detained persons.

Not Good Enough

But the court didn't buy the plaintiffs' allegations and ruled that they offered only circumstantial allegations of a connection between Gulen's conduct and the plaintiffs' grievances in Turkey.

Gulen has been living in Pennsylvania since 1999. Since that time, he has been vociferous in his criticism of Erdogan and his administration. Perhaps smelling danger in the wind, he availed himself of self-imposed exile in this country. And that was a legal bet that paid off -- for the most part.

Gulen's attorney has derided the suit as "pure political theatre" and accused the Turkish president of attempting to silence his client. Spokespersons on Gulen's defense team appeared pleased with the dismissal and said the "U.S. justice system worked as it should.

Published on U.S. Third Circuit, 7 July 2016, Thursday