Alwaght- Turkey has launched an investigation into 17 prominent Americans over links to exiled US-based opposition leader Fethullah Gulen whom Ankara accuses of masterminding last summer’s failed coup attempt.
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched the probe into 17 individuals including US politicians, bureaucrats, and academics after a number of Turkish attorneys filed a criminal complaint against these persons, local media report.
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, US attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) President David Cohen are among the suspects, Anadolu reports.
Other American residents caught in the probe include Henri Barkey, Director of the Middle East Program at Wilson Center former CIA figure Graham E. Fuller, and President of the Turkic American Alliance (TAA) Faruk Taban.
Schumer, for instance, is being suspected of receiving millions of dollars from Gulen’s movement and representing his organizational interests in the US.
Fuller, a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, allegedly was a sponsor for Gulen when he applied for a US residence permit.
The individuals are being accused of conspiracy to overthrow the Turkish government and are suspected to have links with FETO. Alleged evidence of their involvement with the Gulen movement has been submitted to the prosecutors, Turkish media report.
The prosecutor's office is investigating July 15 and July 17 meetings of the suspects in Istanbul, their entries to Turkey and suspected links to other FETO suspects.
Turkey experienced its bloodiest coup attempt in recorded history on 15 July, 2016, when a subset of the Turkish military drove tanks into the streets and dropped bombs on Istanbul and Ankara. The coup was eventually quelled by President Erdoğan's loyalists, but 241 people were killed and 2,194 injured.
The Turkish government blames the attempted coup on Fethullah Gulen, a former supporter of Mr Erdogan who has lived in exile in the United States since 1990. Mr Gulen is a moderate Muslim cleric who engaged in a battle for power with the more conservative Mr Erdogan in 2013. The 17 officials on the list are now suspected of working with Mr Gulen to orchestrate the coup from abroad. Suspected Gulen followers, known as Gulenists, allegedly infiltrated all layers of Turkish society and have been persecuted and hunted down in Turkey in a massive crackdown on Erdogan’s opposition which followed the events in July 2016.
More than 100,000 people were fired from their jobs and around 30,000 detained, including teachers, journalists, security personnel and army officers.