Gulen network wants global political force: law firm

Amsterdam & Partners says Gulen network’s activities should concern everyone who cares about the future of democracy in Turkey

The U.S. based Fethullah Gulen’s network seeks to gain global political power rather than provide charity, Robert Amsterdam a founding partner of Amsterdam & Partners LLP, an international law firm, said Monday.    

Amsterdam’s comments came during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where he announced his firm will represent Turkey in a global investigation into the activities of the network.  

“The activities of the Gulen network, including its penetration of the Turkish judiciary and police, as well as its political lobbying abroad, should concern everyone who cares about the future of democracy in Turkey,” he said. 

The Gulen network was designated a terrorist organization by Turkey in 2014 after the organization was found spying on classified state data. 

As prosecutors completed an indictment against the organization in Turkey last week, the government hired Amsterdam & Partners to assist in a global investigation that could go as far as requesting Gulen’s extradition from the U.S.

“It is an organization which presents itself in a manner that speaks for interfaith dialogue and peace and ‘hizmet’, or service. And yet it is an organization that appears to have engaged in an attempt to overthrow of an elected government in Turkey,” said Amsterdam.  

He described the organization’s activities in Turkey as an attempt to form a “quasi-state” and said it is much bigger than many believe.

Amsterdam said a 2013 probe was an “undemocratic attempt to overthrow an elected government,” which is good evidence of the network’s struggle for political power.  

Amsterdam also touched on the activities of the network in the U.S. where it operates more than 100 charter schools.

The Gulen network is the subject of current state and federal investigations in the U.S., according to Amsterdam, who added that these investigations have been launched primarily by the FBI.

The U.S. probes center around a number of issues, including visas for foreign workers and corruption in bids and public funding of Gulen schools. 

“It seems that this organization, the Gulen network, imports more people than corporations like Google,” said Amsterdam. “In fact, in addition to that these people are not well trained, barely speak English in some cases, and a significant percentage of them are not properly trained as teachers and yet they are brought in, they are placed into an average spending charter schools empire.”

He said many Gulen schools in the U.S. are struggling to manage money and students.

“This organization is not a transparent organization,” he said, displaying a set of three long diagrams of companies and schools linked to the group. 

“It is also not a charitable in their entirety because many of these schools have management companies which, again, we believe that these management companies profit and return their profits to the Gulen organization.”
Noting a Gulen-linked NGO’s announcement for opening 1,000 schools in Africa, Amsterdam said the network’s schools in Africa are also non-transparent and geared toward African elites rather than providing scholarships to disadvantaged groups or poor students.

A Gulen whistle-blower using the code name Fuat Avni on Twitter was cited by one of the network’s daily newspapers, Today’s Zaman, that claimed the government hired the law firm to use its influence with African governments to close Gulen schools on the continent.

“The Gulenists are so concerned about our conduct that in a way they are the ones who provoked this conference,” Amsterdam said. “What they published was a complete lie, fabrication and distortion and shameful.”

Amsterdam said he hasn’t faced such defamation in his 30-year career in political disputes around the world, including in Russia and Zambia. 

He also said that his office and colleagues have received death threats by those associated with Gulen.

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