Turkey launches terror investigation into American politicians, bureaucrats

Preet Bharara and and Turkey President Erdogan

An investigation has been launched in Turkey against several high profile American politicians, bureaucrats and academics for suspected links to the Fethullah Gulen Movement.

The move came after Turkish lawyers filed a criminal complaint against individuals including former CIA Director John O. Brennan, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, US attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) President David Cohen, Henri Barkey, Director of the Middle East Program at Wilson Center and scholar Michael Rubin, reported state news agency Anadolu (AA).

The investigation launched by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul is related to allegations of ties to the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his Hizmet (Service) Movement, which Turkish officials call the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) and accuse of orchestrating last year’s failed coup attempt.

The probe includes speeches and social media posts made by the suspects relating to the Gulenist Movement and could lead to charges of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and membership in a terror organisation.

According to AA, the prosecutor’s office may apply to Interpol to issue a red notice for the arrest of suspects abroad.

Commentators noted that all of the individuals have recently made comments critical of the Turkish government and the crackdown on opposition groups.

249 people died and nearly 2,200 were injured in the coup attempt on 15 July. Intelligence reports suggest the coup was carried out by at least four groups within the military, including staunch Kemalists and some Gulenists. The reports have dismissed Turkey’s allegation that Fethullah Gulen and his followers masterminded the coup.

More than 130,000 people have been purged and arrested from the armed forces, police, judiciary and academia on allegations of Gulen membership. The crackdown has also included the Kurdish opposition.