Gülen’s lawyer says claims of luxury homes part of smear campaign


Date posted: January 27, 2014

ANKARA

The lawyer of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has denied claims made by some Turkish newspapers that the scholar is having luxury residences constructed for him in Turkey.

The pro-government Sabah and Takvim dailies on Jan. 23 and 24 published reports saying that Gülen gave the order for the construction of a luxury villa in Ankara for when he returns to Turkey and that the expenses for the construction are being met by Turkish businessman Akın İpek, chairman of Koza İpek Holding. On Jan. 25, the dailies reported that another luxury residence for Gülen is being built in Bursa which is, again, being paid for by a Turkish businessman. Claims emerged again on Jan. 26 that Gülen is also having a waterside mansion built for him in İstanbul.

Gülen’s lawyer, Orhan Erdemli, denied the allegations, saying the claims are fabricated and were made up as part of a smear campaign against his client. According to Erdemli, Gülen adopts a modest lifestyle and pays rent for his room in a house in Pennsylvania where he lives.

Gülen is highly respected both in Turkey and in many countries around the world for educational activities he has pioneered, along with his efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the globe. He is in self-imposed exile in the US, though there is no legal hurdle that prevents him from returning to Turkey. Shortly after he went to the US in 2000, he was charged with establishing an illegal organization in Turkey, but was eventually acquitted in 2008.

Erdemli underlined that the news reports targeting his client seem to be coordinated by the “same center,” but did not elaborate. He said some of those reports sought to present Gülen as the leader of an illegal organization. “But Turkish society did not give credit to such claims against a person whose innocence had been proven by court decisions. Efforts to discredit my client have gained a new dimension and they are now aimed at presenting Gülen as a man who loves luxury,” the lawyer complained.

However, no one can claim that they have witnessed Gülen living in luxury, Erdemli said. “My 75-year-old client has spent his whole life among the people. People know very well that Gülen preferred to live in a small wooden hut when he was a young man though he had the opportunity to enjoy a luxurious life. And nothing has changed up until now,” the lawyer noted.

According to the lawyer, Gülen has the means to lead a comfortable life thanks to royalties from his books but he opts to lead a modest life instead, in a room that only has a bed, a writing table and personal clothing. “He has not purchased any real estate and has prohibited his siblings from purchasing real estate,” Erdemli added.

According to the lawyer, Gülen has advised his followers and other Muslims to lead modest lives as well.

Last week, businessman İpek, known for his support to the Hizmet movement inspired by Gülen, denied reports in the Sabah and Takvim dailies which claimed that the businessman is constructing a luxury villa for Gülen. İpek said the mansion shown in the photos published in the dailies has belonged to his family for over 40 years. According to the businessman, the mansion had recently been renovated as his mother will move in.

Source: Todays Zaman , January 27, 2014


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