July 1, 2016

US drops accusations against Gülen brought by Turkey’s AK Party gov’t

Robert Mariani, United States (US) Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, dropped accusations against US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, stating that there is no ground for the claims brought to the court by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

The AK Party had hired an Amsterdam-based law firm to have Gülen prosecuted in the US, claiming that members of a group called “Tahşiyeciler” in Turkey were unlawfully arrested in the past with the influence of Gülen within the Turkish police force.

According to news agencies, Judge Mariani found the Turkish government’s allegations “coincidental and baseless.”

The Turkish government initiated the case in an effort to incriminate the sympathizers of the Gülen movement with political motivations.

In the Turkish leg of the case, a total of 33 people, nine of which are in jail, are being tried on charges of conspiring against the Tahşiyeciler group. As part of the trial, several former police chiefs and TV broadcaster Hidayet Karaca have been incarcerated in Turkish prisons for over a year.

In a 2009 live broadcast on CNN Türk TV, the leader of the Tahşiyeciler group stated that he liked former al-Qaeda head Osama bin Laden. A number of records kept by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) surfaced in 2014 indicating that the Tahşiyeciler openly supported al-Qaeda and accused the Muslims, who are against it, of infidelity.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party government has waged a war against the Gülen movement since Dec. 17, 2013, when a corruption scandal led to the resignation of four of his Cabinet ministers, as he was the prime minister at the time. Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government and said that sympathizers of the movement within the police department had conducted the graft investigation. The graft probe implicated Erdoğan, members of his family, as well as senior AK Party members.

Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained and some arrested mostly for “illegal wiretapping” in the course of the corruption investigation. Erdoğan said he would carry out a “witch hunt” against anyone with links to the movement. The Gülen movement strongly rejects the allegations brought against it.

Erdoğan recently declared the Gülen movement a “terrorist organization” despite the fact that there is no court ruling supporting his claim.

In the Dec. 17 corruption and bribery investigation, the sons of ministers, well-known business people, a district mayor, a director of a state-owned bank, and many high-profile figures were arrested in synchronized raids. They were released and the prosecutors who initiated the case were later imprisoned due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement. However, four Cabinet ministers were forced to resign.

The major graft case was closed by other prosecutors who replaced them, with all the charges against politicians and business people being dropped. A parliamentary investigation against the four ministers was also dropped with AK Party votes.

Published on Turkish Minute, 1 July 2016, Friday