FETO schools and charities: The other side of the coin

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FETO schools and charities: The other side of the coin

2017-07-17 10:26 BST
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As opposed to Washington Post article's depiction of FETO schools and charities as "influential," there were corruption probes launched against FETO institutions in US

One of FETO charter schools in the US

On 17 July 2017, an article on the coup attempt of July 15th was released by The Washington Post from which some information was missing.

Firstly, the author wrote that “Turkish authorities pinned the attempted coup on Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric who founded a global network of influential schools and charities but who is widely seen in Turkey as the mastermind of a subversive fifth column seeking to control the Turkish state,” but the corruption probes launched against these “influential schools and charities” went unmentioned.

A number of allegations against and investigations into FETO charter schools in the US – which generate about $500 million in revenue per year – as cited by FETO Facts website can be listed as follows:

·         The charter schools in four states are under FBI probes for fraud and forgery of documents, unlawful profits and irregularity.

·         Three charter schools in California operating under the name Magnolia could be shut down for bringing teachers from Turkey using temporary work visas. Magnolia schools engaged in “poor financial management and inconsistent or incorrect internal policies,” according to the newspaper.

·         According to Amsterdam & Partners LLP, a law firm that investigates the FETO charter school network in the US, "the Gulen-affiliated Harmony Public Schools have been allegedly engaging in widespread abuse of the H1B visa program, misappropriation of public funds, and discrimination against certain students and families.”

·         A former Harmony student said she was bullied by a teacher after some teachers learned that the student was Jewish. Likewise,a  former teacher from Harmony explained with a video clip she recorded that students with special needs were discriminated against by teachers.

·         Furthermore, the school was "accused of fraud and financial malfeasance worth over $18 million," on the grounds that a company dubbed Charter School Solutions contracted by Harmony to manage its buildings and properties was in fact run by a Harmony employee.

·         Another controversial aspect of Harmony schools, which brags about a "100 percent" college acceptance rate, is its surreptitious relations with the North American University, yet another alleged FETO institution. A Washington Post article indicated that "a sizable number of Harmony graduates are accepted to the North American University" which did not comply with "its own admissions standards" and had "deep financial and governance ties" to Harmony schools.

·         In a news story based on court records, Concept Schools, another charter school chain linked to FETO, were "suspected of involvement in a $5 million fraud operation over accusations that they funneled the money from federal grants to Gulenists." Just as Harmony, Concept Schools were also accused of engaging in financial activity with companies with which they had "close ties.”

Secondly, the article argued that “Since then [the coup attempt], Erdogan has presided over a vast and astonishing purge of his country's state institutions and civil society,” insinuating that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the FETO investigations in state institutions instead of an autonomously acting body of members of the judiciary.

However, the fact that many people were returned to their offices through decrees having the force of law (DHFL) also went unmentioned in the article’s narrative. Some of the related media reports can be accessed here, here and here.

In addition, The Commission for Inspecting the State of Emergency Proceedings (CISEP) has just announced its principles of functioning. The European Court of Human Rights declared accordingly that it dropped all 12,600 state of emergency applications from Turkey with reference to the establishment of the CISEP.

Finally, the Constitutional Court has been accepting individual applications since the constitutional change in 2010. Individual appellants are allowed to take DHFL to the Constitutional Court. See our related fact-check.

As for the allegations of corruption in FETO charities, FETO Facts website reads: “A report issued after an inspection by the Interior Ministry revealed certain infractions of the Gulen-affiliated charity ‘Kimse Yok mu?’. According to the report, the charity did not register donations in its bank account and took donations abroad without the knowledge of related government institutions. The report said that the foundation held a donation campaign for a needy citizen and collected 30,000 Turkish liras but did not give the donation to the citizen.”

A detailed account of FETO charities could be found in FETO Facts website.