The office of Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor launched an investigation a number of key U.S. officials and figures, including U.S. Senator for New York Chuch Schumer (D), former Attorney for Southern District of New York City Preet Bharara, former CIA Director John Brennan, over charges of attempting a coup against the Turkish government.
On Friday, a group of Turkish attorneys who appear to be supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government filed criminal complaints to the prosecutor’s office, demanding criminal proceedings against 17 people, including former Turkey operative for CIA Graham E. Fuller, Wilson Center fellow Henri Barkey, President of Turkic American Alliance (TAA) Faruk Taban, OFAC President David Cohen and AEI fellow Michael Rubin.
In the petition submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office, the lawyers accused Turkey’s allies of helping July 15 coup planning. The complaint said the suspects helped the Gulen movement, which is accused of masterminding the coup attempt, particularly in the U.S. The petition highlighted that the Gulen movement, which is designated as a terror group in Turkey, closely worked with these individuals.
“Schumer is known for defending [the Gulen movement] in the U.S. politics and for receiving millions of dollars of donation from terror group FETO,” the petition said.
There are members of the judiciary, intelligence, foreign ministry, military and police department of countries which Turkey view as allies that helped to craft July 15 coup plan, even took part in it, vehemently defended the putsch in international television channels, media and on the internet, they claimed.
The petition points a series of challenges Turkey faced in recent years, citing corruption investigation into President Erdogan’s government, interception of weapons supply to Syria from Turkey and July 15 coup attempt.
Former Prosecutor Bharara drew ire of the Turkish government for launching an investigation into Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab over charges of money laundering, evasion of U.S. sanctions against Iran, using American banks for financial transactions through state-owned Turkish bank Halkbank.
Mr. Erdogan and his ministers described Mr. Bharara as a Gulenist, a charge that he strictly refused and deemed as ludicrous.
The Zarrab case has become a personal affair for the Turkish president who sees the investigation as a coup attempt against his rule. Mr. Bharara has become a moving target for the Turkish authorities, with ministers one after another disparaging him on regular basis.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has called on FBI to wiretap on Bharara’s phones to reveal any connection between Gulenists and the former U.S. attorney.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu went too far to castigate him, saying that the prosecutor has ties with a terrorist organization – FETO. The Turkish government recognizes Gulen movement as a terrorist organization.
That characterization prompted a swift rebuke from the prosecutor who said he has never been to Turkey and had to Google “Gulen” to learn who he was. He also refused to directly respond to Mr. Cavusoglu over a case that he no longer oversees.
President Erdogan did not hide his euphoric mood over the removal of Prosecutor Bharara from the Zarrab case, viewing it as a positive step.
However, he warned, the remaining staff comprises of Mr. Bharara holdovers. He expressed his expectation that former attorney’s team would be entirely removed from their posts.
Three weeks after the arrest of a senior executive of state-owned Halkbank at New York airport, the Turkish president first time spoke on the issue on Friday.
He regarded the legal process against the Turkish banker as unfair. The arrest of deputy CEO of Halkbank who has been in and out of the U.S. 7 times is really upsetting, he said.
U.S. prosecutors accuse Halkbank deputy CEO Mehmet Hakan Atilla of conspiring with Reza Zarrab for money laundering and circumventing the U.S.-led international sanctions against Iran.
The diversity of figures in the list is mind-boggling. Suggesting that all those people are working to promote Gulen movement, to plot against the Turkish government on every possible occasion, working to smear against Turkey in international media and platforms reflects deeply rooted conspiracy theories among government circles in Turkey.
The Turkish lawyers pledged to expand their legal battle to the countries where those officials and figures work and will demand an investigation from local legal authorities into their treacherous activities against their own states. They simply accuse American officials of working, conspiring against their state.
According to the Turkish lawyers, it is “clearly evident” that Mr. Bharara supported Gulenist organization in the U.S. and has close ties with the movement.
They also blamed David Cohen, former Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, for instigating the financial investigation into Halkbank. He is also accused of having close ties with Gulenists.
Former CIA Chief Operative for Turkey Fuller is seen the as the key figure who helped Mr. Gulen’s legal paperwork for acquiring the right of residence in the U.S. Henri Barkey and Michael Rubin are also seen as close figures to Gulenists.
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