British law firm hired by AK Party gov’t launches defamation campaign against Gülen movement

Robert Amsterdam, founding partner of the Amsterdam & Partners LLP, is seen during a press conference held in Washington. (Photo: Cihan)
Robert Amsterdam, founding partner of the Amsterdam & Partners LLP, is seen during a press conference held in Washington. (Photo: Cihan)


Date posted: October 27, 2015

MAHIR ZEYNALOV / WASHINGTON

A British law firm hired by the Turkish government has launched a defamation campaign in Washington against the Gülen movement, using the Turkish government’s narrative, part of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) unceasing witch hunt against the faith-based movement in Turkey and abroad.

Robert Amsterdam, founding partner of Amsterdam & Partners LLP, a London-based law firm, said in Washington on Monday that the Turkish government had hired the firm to “conduct a global investigation” into the activities of the Gülen movement, also known as Hizmet.

“We have been retained by the [Turkish] Republic to expose allegedly unlawful conduct by the Gülen network worldwide,” Amsterdam said during a press conference, which was not publicly announced. Only hand-picked pro-government Turkish media were invited to the briefing, and the live broadcast of the event was cut when the floor was opened to questions.

It was not clear how much the Turkish government is paying for the firm’s services, but a Turkish whistleblower claimed last month that the firm officially gets $50,000 monthly and “millions” under the table. Monday’s press briefing confirmed the claim put forward by the whistleblower known as Fuat Avni, who has a long history of credible reporting from inside the government in Ankara, that the firm had been hired.

The briefing was primarily designed to clarify the work to be done by the law firm, which has been under fire from Turkish critics for extending Ankara’s witch hunt abroad and for being a mouthpiece for the Turkish government. The hired lawyers attempted to justify their work for the government, which has become synonymous to many with an anti-democratic crackdown and a lack of accountability. Borrowing from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s narrative, Amsterdam said the movement is trying to “overthrow an elected government in Turkey,” reiterating the government line that has been used since twin corruption investigations targeted Erdoğan and his inner circle. Erdoğan accused the movement of being behind the corruption scandal that implicated him and senior members of his government in December two years ago.

Amsterdam even acknowledged that the press conference had been “provoked” by such criticism, and complained about how his work with the Turkish government had been revealed, noting that it “supports the narrative of the Turkish government” that there are “spies inside.”

The firm was retained by the Turkish government after officials failed to convince other governments to shut down overseas schools and charity organizations linked to the Gülen movement. Amsterdam, flanked by his partners in a small room at the National Press Club, displayed three charts with schools and other educational facilities in other countries that are inspired by the Gülen movement.

Amsterdam’s briefing was immediately picked up by the pro-government Turkish media and reported as though it was a formal statement of US policy against the Gülen movement. The Sabah daily, owned by the Turkish president’s son-in-law, said “a coup from the US” in the headline for the story on the press conference.

In İstanbul, Mehmet Kasap, chairman of the Law and Life Foundation, said Amsterdam’s accusations are “very serious” and need to be proven.

Pointing out that Amsterdam violated the presumption of innocence, Kasap said there is no such crime as the existence of a “parallel structure.”

The “parallel structure” is a term invented by then-Prime Minister and current President Erdoğan to refer to followers of the Gülen movement.

“Amsterdam is not putting forward any proof; it is just hearsay. I believe the lawyers for the Gülen schools and any other parties involved in the case will press charges, should they feel the need,” he said.

Amsterdam said the activities of the Gülen movement “should concern everyone who cares about the future of democracy in Turkey.” The lawyer’s remarks stood in dark contrast to the anti-democratic credentials of his client, the Turkish government. The government has recently been targeted by rights groups for gravely abusing rights, restricting freedoms and cracking down on critical media. As Amsterdam spoke about how the movement is detrimental to Turkish democracy, Turkish authorities moved to seize the country’s leading media group, İpek, just days before a key election.

After the briefing in Washington, US Congressman Todd Rokita said 65 US lawmakers had submitted a joint letter to President Barack Obama, highlighting concerns about the “Turkish government’s dedication to the democratic process.”

Amsterdam also took a jab at this newspaper for its “misleading and defamatory reporting.” Today’s Zaman earlier reported on the government whistleblower’s remarks that said the law firm will use its clout in Africa to push African governments to close down schools associated with the movement, which are known to provide education to often the most unprivileged children in less developed countries. The whistleblower also reported on Erdoğan’s “glee” when his advisers told him, “There is nothing, even illegal jobs, that we can’t make this law firm do.”

Amsterdam described the news article as “shameful” in a country like Turkey where he claimed “press freedom is sacred,” contradicting Turkey’s poor record on upholding media freedom.

Nurullah Albayrak, the legal representative of Fethullah Gülen, who resides in a rural Pennsylvanian town and is the inspiration for the movement, interpreted the press briefing as confirmation of the whistleblower’s claims.

Albayrak said the money paid to the British law firm is a “waste of public finances,” as Amsterdam did not put forward any evidence to back up his claims. “Someone must have misled this law firm, or they have misled themselves” he added.


*Arif Tekdal from İstanbul contributed to this report.

Source: Today's Zaman , October 26, 2015


Related News

İstanbul Transportation Authority cancels bus line to Fatih University

Amid growing examples of discrimination against the Hizmet movement, the İstanbul Transportation Authority (İETT) canceled one bus line to Fatih University, which is considered to be affiliated with the Hizmet movement. An official from İETT, İsmihan Şimşek talked to Today’s Zaman and admitted that the 76F bus line had been canceled, but dismissed the idea that the decision deliberately targeted Fatih University. According to her, following analysis of demand for bus services in the region, the 76F bus line was discontinued while two other lines, HT18 and 418, continue to run with stops at Fatih University.

Samanyolu permission to shoot Ramadan program in mosque

Requests submitted by the Samanyolu Group seeking permission for two of its stations to shoot programs in the gardens of two mosques in the Üsküdar district of Istanbul during the holy month of Ramadan have been turned down by the İstanbul Mufti’s Office.

Turkish Scholar Fethullah Gulen Speaks about PKK

Mustafa Tabanli Turkish scholar Fethullah Gulen broke a self-imposed 16-year broadcast silence and spoke to BBC about his home country Turkiye. One of the key issues facing the country is the Kurdish issue, Hizmet movements support for the peace process. Fethullah Gulen, Turkish scholar: “We were never completely aligned with any political party. But on […]

‘A movement like the Hizmet Movement is very important for correcting misconceptions of Islam’

Dr. Lawrence Geraty is a Professor of Archaeology and Old Testament Studies at La Sierra University in Riverside, California. He served as the second President of La Sierra University. He completed his PhD in Syro-Palestinian Archaeology at Harvard University.

Call for Paper: Muslims, Sports and Physical Activity

The visibility of Muslim and the presence of Islam in sports need specific attention. On the one hand, there is an increase in social mobility, socialisation and participation in the society via sport; on the other hand, research has indicated that this participation in sports reveals some particularities in Islamic codes of living.

Public ad budget unfairly allocated to pro-gov’t media

Separate sources have suggested that several public institutions prefer pro-government dailies and TV stations over other media, an initiative that follows Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statements about “the opposition that cooperates with an international conspiracy seeking to topple the government.”

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

[Press Release] The Corruption and Slander against the Hizmet Movement

Washington Post: Biden needs to give Turkey’s Erdogan some tough advice

Report: Turkey Mulling Attack On Fethullah Gulen

Kosovo President: Arrest of Gulenists was wrong

Opposition, diplomats slam gov’t attempt to shut down Turkish schools

Police rescue 8 students, staff of Nigeria-Turkish International School from kidnappers

Parents of Nigerian-Turkish International College students decry call to close schools

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News