A court indictment ruled that some 5,000 academics have deposited cash in Bank Asya after an order from U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, as part of an investigation into the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
The indictment said Gülen, the mastermind of the July 2016 coup attempt, ordered his followers in academia to deposit cash in Bank Asya, a bank that was later seized by the state over its links to the network.
The indictment into the FETÖ structure in Istanbul’s Yıldız Technical University was accepted by the Istanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court after the approval of a chief public prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor has sought up to 15 years in prison for a total of 83 academics, of whom 21 are currently arrested, in the 360-page indictment over “being members of a terrorist organization.”
Some 33 of the suspects were alleged users of ByLock, an encrypted smartphone app that came to prominence after it revealed Gülenists used it to plan the coup, and that all the suspects had bank accounts in Bank Asya, according to the prosecutor.
The Gülen movement sent messages to senior members of the group on social media, ordering them to deposit cash in the bank after “FETÖ failed in the Dec. 17 and 25 coup attempts and their financial resources were left in a difficult position,” the indictment said.
The Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013 corruption probes targeted figures close to the government, including four ministers at the time and their family members. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has said Gülenist prosecutors were behind the probe, which is now closed as both the judicial processes and a parliament inquiry on the matter were dropped.
The four ministers involved in the probe later resigned from their posts.
Prosecutors now seek lifetime in jail for their colleagues in the past graft probe as Bank Asya was seized by the government and closed in July last year. The indictment stated that all members of the hierarchical structure of the movement deposited money in Bank Asya after Gülen’s call and struggled to keep it open via providing finances to it.
According to the indictment, data from the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) showed that Bank Asya’s deposit funds decreased from 15 billion Turkish liras to 6.9 billion liras before the state-run Saving Deposits Insurance Fund (TMSF) seized it on Dec. 24, 2014. The BDDK said that 20 percent of the deposits belonged to academics, while a total of 1,132,000 liras were found in the bank belonging to 168 academics and their wives on the same day.
The indictment also said Gülen mobilized the 5,000 academics in order to rescue Bank Asya with 5 billion liras (roughly $1.3 billion) of deposit in the bank.