Turkey coup: Pennsylvania cleric is Erdogan foe


(Photo: Sedat Suna, EPA)

Supporters of Turkish President Recep Erdogan protests in Istanbul during a coup attempt. (Photo: Sedat Suna, EPA)


Turkey coup: Pennsylvania cleric is Erdogan foe


Turkish government lawyer: US cleric had ‘unlawful conduct’

SCRANTON — As government officials and military forces clash in the streets of Ankara and elsewhere in Turkey, attention has turned to a reclusive Muslim cleric in Pennsylvania whom Turkey’s president has long accused of orchestrating coup attempts.

“(S)uspicion has fallen on Fethullah Gulen, a US..-based Turkish religious scholar and political enemy of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the strongman Turkish president,” writes Steve LeVine at qz.com. “Until now, Erdogan had appeared to have crushed the 75-year-old Gulen, who has deep roots in the Turkish political, military, judicial, and media establishments, as well as in Muslim countries around the world. But if, as Erdogan himself has alleged, Gulen or his followers are involved in the putsch, then it demonstrates that he remains a force to contend with, though he has lived for years in seclusion in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.”

The Turkish uprising comes just two weeks after a lawyer representing the Turkish government vowed to continue exposing what he calls the “unlawful conduct” of Gulen.

Robert Amsterdam released a statement on June 30, one day after a federal judge in Scranton dismissed his lawsuit against Gulen.

“Despite the outcome of this ruling, a very clear message has been sent to Gulen and his co-conspirators in the Poconos: the days of impunity are numbered, and your unlawful conduct will be brought to light,” Amsterdam said.

The suit contended Gulen ordered sympathetic police, prosecutors and judges in Turkey to target members of a rival spiritual movement critical of his teachings. The legal action was filed as part of a crackdown on the Turkish cleric and his followers by Erdogan.

U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani threw out the suit, ruling the claims did not belong in U.S. courts.

Gulen’s attorneys had called the legal action an attempt by Erdogan to silence Gulen, who has criticized the Turkish leader.

Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, according to Time magazine. “Despite his distance, he remains one of the most influential people in Turkey,” the magazine writes online. “From afar, he has run a powerful movement calling for a secular and democratic government.”

Erdogan has launched a broad campaign against Gulen’s movement in Turkey and abroad. The Erdogan regime has carried out a purge of civil servants suspected of ties to the movement, seized businesses and closed some media organizations. Gulen has been charged criminally with plotting to overthrow the government, and was placed on trial in absentia in Turkey earlier this year.