US-based cleric Gülen’s nephew says key coup suspect Öksüz actually linked with Gülen network

US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen’s nephew Ebuseleme Gülen has made a series of new allegations regarding the Gülen network for the first time. He said Adil Öksüz, a key suspect of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, was actually affiliated with the movement despite the previous claims to the contrary. He also said he created a game targeting then-İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener in 2018 with the movement’s instruction, and framed it as if it was created by the AKP.

Fethullah Gülen (L) and his nephew Ebuseleme Gülen (R)

Duvar English

Ebuseleme Gülen, the nephew of the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen who has thousands of followers, has made a series of new allegations regarding the Gülen network, including about the failed coup attempt.

The Gülen network is referred to by the government as the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and is widely believed to have undertaken the failed coup attempt of July 2016.

Gülen made some allegations on social media and to some exiled journalists last week. 

After his allegations went viral on social media, Ebuseleme Gülen spoke to Ruşen Çakır from the online news outlet Medyascope. 

In one of the most important allegations, Ebuseleme Gülen argued that Adil Öksüz was affiliated with the Gülen network. Öksüz is a key suspect in the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt who has been on the run since the attempted takeover. Fethullah Gülen has so far rejected Öksüz’s affiliation with his movement.

In the interview, Ebuseleme Gülen first said his uncle was “kidnapped” by Gülen network executives to a new house, namely by Cevdet Türkyolu and Barbaros Kocakurt.

Gülen was living in a Pennsylvania compound in a self-imposed exile. The Turkish government says he organized the coup attempt of July 2016 and has designated his network as a terrorist group, dubbing it “Fethullahist Terror Organization,” or “FETÖ.”

After Gülen’s claim, three pro-Gülenist journalists, namely Metin Yıkar, Abdülhamit Bilici, and Adem Yavuz Arslan visited Fethullah Gülen and argued that this claim was not true. However, they could not interview due to Fethullah Gülen’s health issues.

“Fethullah Gülen came to America because of the consequences of the February 28th (post-modern coup). Fethullah Gülen was kidnapped that day. Since that day, the people around him, the cadre that has ossified there, have not let him go for 25 years. No news from Turkey goes there, no news from there comes here. All the connections are Cevdet, Barbaros, Ekrem Dumanlı, a few journalists, and so on. It is entirely this management team that has been breaking the relationship with the public and the state,” Ebuseleme Gülen said.

In his interview with journalist Ahmet Dönmez, Gülen claimed that Fethullah Gülen told him before the failed coup attempt, “Our friends have thought of something. Soon all institutions in Turkey will change hands."

The nephew Gülen later wrote a letter to Fethullah Gülen expressing his discomfort over this remark.

In response, Gülen said Fethullah Gülen told him, “What can I do, my son, they deceived me too, and I can't do anything about it,” referring to the failed coup attempt. Ebuseleme Gülen added, “I don't think it is a logical sentence for someone like Fethullah Gülen to say that he can't do anything about it."

Fethullah Gülen has always rejected his movement's role in the coup attempt.

"Who will solve this problem with this community? You will solve it. You are the one who holds the power. My uncle always says, 'How can I fire my friends of 40 years?’ He knows that his friends are involved in something and have made mistakes. Over the years, many issues have gone to him. In all of them, he would say, 'Our friends wouldn't do it'. Even though he believes it, he says, 'What should I do, throw them in the garbage? I am a friend of 40 years, a friend in the cause',” he added.

Gülen also confirmed that the movement “tried to infiltrate the state.”

“We have many sins. We should confess and repent. But don't be so hard on us just because you have the opportunity. There are people in prison. As you do this, we switch to a defense mechanism. We say, 'Look, they are oppressors. See what they do? We are right. Look, they put an innocent sister in jail'. No, they are doing that cruelty because of your cruelty (referring to the Gülen movement). We need to see this too. You tried to infiltrate the state, don't deny it,” he said.

Gülen added that the problem was not the cause, but the management of the movement.

“Let's get on a plane, come on. If I had served eight years (in prison), why are hundreds of people serving there for nothing? I saw Adil Öksüz, I drank his tea, I sat in his house,” he added, saying that innocent people are in prisons in Turkey because of the management of the movement.

“Even if we heard some claims, we didn't want to believe it. For example, they say (we) stole exam questions. We didn’t believe it. But then when I came to America and met some people, I realized that some of the rumors were true,” he added.

In another important confession, Gülen said he was behind one of the browser games that targeted then-İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener in 2018. Gülen said that he created 80 percent of the game “Tickle Akşener” with the instruction of the movement, and the motivation was to make the AKP look bad by framing it as if the game was created by the AKP. “I left the team because what we did with Ms. Meral bothered my conscience so much. I was very ashamed of what I did. I am a person who looks in the mirror every day and curses himself.”

He also said he was directly instructed by Adil Öksüz to make another game targeting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan right before the failed coup attempt. “The people would say, ‘Why did you do this in an anti-democratic way?’ And (we) would say: ‘This is the reason. This man was such an asshole, such a thief.’ (We) would make black propaganda. I was part of the post-coup black propaganda team,” he said but added that he did not know about the coup attempt beforehand.

Meanwhile, Turkey has made the seventh official request to the United States for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, DW Turkish reported.

The Gülen movement was once close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), but their ties were strained in 2013 following a graft probe.

More than 150,000 government employees have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs since the failed coup in 2016, in what the AKP government says is an effort to cleanse the state apparatus of Gülenists, though among those purged have included high numbers of Kurds, leftists, and union members.