Gülenists using U.S. taxpayers' money, says Turkish pres. communications head

The Gülen movement, which Ankara accuses of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt, uses American taxpayers’ money, thereby posing a problem not only to Turkey, but the United States as well,  the Turkish Presidential Communications Director said on Sunday.

“Dear Americans, you are very wrong if you believe Fetullah Gülen’s cult is only Turkey’s problem,” Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter on Sunday while sharing a video about the group.

“FETO has around 200 schools in the U.S. where 60,000 students study. The charter school system has been used by FETO to illegally funnel money and provide fraudulent jobs to its followers,” the video said. 

Ankara designates the Gülen movement, which is said to have some 7 million followers worldwide, as a terrorist organisation, namely the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETÖ). Since the coup attempt the Turkish government has dismissed some 130,000 civil servants for alleged links to the group and thrown some 50,000 alleged members in jail. The leader of the movement, Fethullah Gülen, who now lives in the United States, has denied any involvement in the failed putsch.

“They're very skilled at manipulating the system. They disguise their true agenda. Don't be fooled. Don't let them get away with financing a criminal scheme through American taxpayers’ funds and hold [all relevant] people accountable who protect them,” the video went on to say.

Dubbed by the New York Times as “one of the largest collections of charter schools in America,” Gülen-linked schools in the United States have been raising eyebrows as Ankara claims the charters are funding a global political syndicate that threatens the country’s stability.