The Turkish government is expanding its witch hunt of suspected allies of cleric Fethullah Gulen by opening an investigation into 17 U.S.-based individuals, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and former CIA director John Brennan.
Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, were also named in the probe, which was first reported by Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency.
The probe is the latest salvo in the Turkish government’s obsession with Gulen, who has lived in self-exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has accused Gulen of masterminding last summer’s failed coup attempt. He has labeled Gulen’s network of followers the Fethullah Terrorist Organization, or FETO, and wants the U.S. government to extradite the imam.
Turkish investigators are interested in Schumer because of donations he has received from Gulen’s supporters here in the U.S. Bharara, who was fired by President Trump last month, is most likely being targeted because of his investigation into Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman who is under federal indictment for allegedly helping Iran skirt economic sanctions.
Zarrab is said to have information that could implicate Erdogan and other senior Turkish government officials in the sanctions-busting scheme. Erodgan has accused Bharara of being a Gulen follower.
The complaint also names several Gulenists who operate non-profit organizations here in the U.S. One of those is Recep Ozkan, the former president of the Gulen-linked Turkish Cultural Center. Ozkan donated heavily to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns and as much as $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.
Another target of the probe is Ahmet Sait Yayla, a professor at George Mason University and a former top official in the Turkish national police’s counter-terrorism division. Yayla has written several articles accusing the Turkish government of allowing ISIS terrorists to pass freely through Turkey. (RELATED: Who Is Spying On Turkish Journalists In The US?)
The Daily Caller reported earlier this month that Yayla is one of several exiled Turkish citizens who were followed and surveilled last year before being identified in news articles published in Turkey. Yayla told TheDC that he believes that the Turkish government is behind the spying.