Pro-Erdoğan lawyers file criminal complaint against US officials on terror charges

US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on February 27, 2017.

A group of pro-Erdoğan lawyers in Turkey have filed what appears to be a frivolous criminal complaint on terror charges against prominent names in the US including a US Senator, former US Attorney, former Treasury official, academics and NGO workers.

A complaint, filed with the public prosecutor’s office in İstanbul, alleged that 17 people including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, former CIA director John Brennan, former CIA senior official and other of several books, the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency and former under-secretary at the Department of the Treasury David Cohen are part of group that has been systematically targeting Turkey by various plots including with the failed coup bid of July 15, 2016.

The lawyers also claimed that all these figures are involved with the US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen whom Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuses of plotting a coup and orchestrating graft probes against government officials. Gülen, who has been a vocal critic of Erdoğan on corruption in the government and Ankara’s aiding and abetting to armed Jihadist groups in Syria, has denied any role in either the coup bid or corruption probes. The government has so far failed to present any evidence linking the cleric to these allegations.

The complaint by lawyers comes on the heels of increased anti-Western and xenophobic remarks by Erdoğan and other government officials who describe the West as “Christian Club” that wants to harm Turkey. Erdoğan announced Turkey has been waging a new independent war against the West just like it did after the World War I, trying to consolidate religious and nationalist base ahead of critical referendum that may give him imperial powers.

Many allegations included in the criminal complaint repeat what Erdoğan and other Turkish government officials have been saying publicly. It claims that among those who planned, supported and played a role in the failed coup in Turkey included employees of intelligence community, foreign ministry, military, police and even judiciary from countries that are considered to be allies of Turkey.

Lawyers also stated that US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is involved in plotting against Turkey. They slammed former Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara who brought US Justice Department charges against Reza Zarrab who are engaged in hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions for the Iranian government or other entities as part of a scheme to evade sanctions against the country.

Zarrab was also accused of being the ringleader of a shady money-laundering and gold-smuggling circle in Turkey that was established to dodge sanctions against Iran, was among 21 people — including the sons of three then-ministers, a district mayor and other high-profile figures — who were arrested as part of the corruption and bribery operation that went public on Dec. 17, 2013 in a series of police raids. Erdoğan intervened in the case and hushed up the probe, securing the release of Zarrab who donated huge sums of money to a foundation run by Erdoğan’s wife Emine Erdoğan.

The complaint asked the prosecutor’s office to investigate 17 people and launch a case against them on charges of attempting to remove constitutional order of Turkey, render the Parliament functions ineffective, and topple the government.

People listed as suspects in the criminal compliant are Senator Charles Scummer, Preet Bharara, David Cohen, John Brennan, Graham E. Fuller, Faruk Taban of Turkish American Alliance (TAA), lawyer Zafer Akın of Turkish Cultural Center, Kemal Öksüz of Turquoise Council for Americans and Eurasians, Emre Çelik of Rumi Forum, Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, Ahmet Sait Yayla of George Mason University, Henri J. Barkey of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Mahmut Yeter of Mid Atlantic Federation Of Turkic American Associations, Talha Saraç of Turkish American Business Network, Recep Özkan, Burak Yeneroğlu, and retired US army officer Ralph Peters.

Many of the NGOs listed in the complaint are affiliated with Gülen movement.

Last year, a pro-Erdoğan lawyer Mert Eryılmaz also filed a criminal complaint against the United States (US) Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper and the US Army General Joseph Vote, accusing them of plotting the failed coup attempt in Turkey, and making propaganda of a terrorist organization.

The lawyer claimed that Turkey’s İncirlik Air Base in Adana, which is primarily used by the Turkish Air Force as well as the US Air Force, was the place where July 15 “imperialist invasion” was orchestrated.

Stating that there are “more evidence than he could list” that shows the failed coup attempt was plotted at the İncirlik Air Base, Eryılmaz added that Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ] members collaborated with high ranking US military officials for the plot.

“It is unthinkable that US armed forces act independently from both the US army chief and the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency]. Therefore, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General [Joseph Dunford] is directly responsible for the heinous invasion, the attempted coup,” Eryılmaz said in the complaint.

“FETÖ” is a term used by the government-backed judiciary to frame sympathizers of the Gülen movement, a grassroots social initiative inspired by Gülen that carries out charitable activities all around the world, including education, humanitarian aid, medical aid.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt, while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention.

April 15, 2017

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