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The New Arab Staff

Turkey using US courts to prove school network's alleged Gulen links: report

Fethullah Gulen lives in self-imposed exile in the United States [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2020

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Ankara alleges that the schools are being used to fund Gulen, the man accused of being behind Turkey's failed 2016 coup attempt.

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Turkey, Gulen.

Turkey has asked US courts to request that a network of US charter schools hand over documents proving alleged links between them and exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, according to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday.

Ankara alleges that the schools are being used to fund Gulen, the man accused of being behind Turkey's failed 2016 coup attempt.

In approaching federal judges in Ohio, Turkey has bypassed the established procedure of requesting evidence through the Department of Justice.

A Turkish prosecutor said in a declaration filed in one of the cases that the standard process, known as mutual legal assistance, was "cumbersome", according to Bloomberg.

A court filing cited by the financial news outlet said that Turkey is out to prove that the schools are "fraudulently siphoning public education funds away from their intended purpose" to finance Gulen.

The Concept Schools network has dismissed the allegations as part of a smear campaign, with spokesman Christopher Murphy saying in a statement that the schools have "no affiliation with the Gulen movement or any national, political, social, or religious organisation".

Proceedings against the schools reportedly began in August.

A report produced by Amsterdam & Partners LLP, the law firm hired by Ankara, alleges that the founding of Concept schools is linked to Turkish immigrants who established schools from Gulen in other countries.

Turkey says the schools have engaged in fraud in order to siphon money away, including through bid rigging for contracts, real estate deals and visa fraud. 

Gulen, a former Erdogan ally, has long denied Turkey's charges against him. The 79-year-old preacher was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Turkish court last month for his alleged role in the 2016 coup attempt.

Turkey has long sought his extradition from the US where he resides.

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