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


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

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

The government’s attempts to shut down Turkish schools abroad which are affiliated with the Hizmet movement, inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, have been severely criticized by opposition members and diplomats.

A legal guidebook for ‘perception engineers’

The campaign to manipulate public perceptions of Fethullah Gülen and the Hizmet movement which is inspired by Gülen’s ideas is stepping up pace once again. The “wag-the-dog” strategy is wielded once again in an effort to distract public attention.

Teachers, parents oppose Pak-Turk Schools takeover

A group calling itself the Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges Parent-Teacher Association expressed concern on Saturday over reports that the government was going to hand over the school management to “a political entity”. Speaking at a press conference at the Raiwind Road campus, they said they would oppose such a move.

MHP asks gov’t how many state officials reassigned after graft scandal

Since the widespread corruption and bribery investigation became public, thousands of police officers have been reassigned or removed from their posts because of alleged links to the Hizmet movement, inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. In addition to the thousands of police officers, the government has replaced the prosecutors who initiated the investigation as well as dozens of officials at various state institutions, including public prosecutors’ offices.

Lessons from Dec. 17: Who is parallel?

To prove whether the Gülen movement has a parallel structure , one has to establish that the investigations and wiretappings were not conducted within the scope of a legal investigation. If that is proven, one has to demonstrate that the police and prosecutors in charge of the investigations were receiving instructions not from the state but from sources within the movement. Both of these claims have to be proven with evidence.

Taiwanese scholar: Hizmet movement wins hearts with education, charity

Taipei, Dec. 6 (CNA) Hizmet movement (aka Gulen movement), a social movement inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, differentiates itself from extremist Islamic views by winning hearts with education and charity, a Taiwanese scholar said Monday. Some think that Muslims are belligerent toward those with different religious views, but Gulen believes in influencing people […]

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Erdoğan’s scapegoats: the West and Gülen

Latest practices of AK Party gov’t raise fears of ‘one-party state’

Peace ambassador students conquer hearts at European Parliament

Gandhi’s granddaughter: Hizmet movement realized all we dreamed of

US lawmaker says Gülen should not be extradited, calls his movement strongest element against radical Islamists

As Turkey Gears Up to Vote, Its ‘Traitors’ Speak Out

Daniel Skubik on Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet Movement

Copyright 2023 Hizmet News