Mike Pompeo confirms FBI probe on FETÖ in US
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu paid a short but very important visit to the United States for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on June 4. Due to his election campaigning, following his talks in Washington D.C., he had to immediately return to his homeland and constituency, Antalya. As a group of Ankara bureau chiefs of the media outlets, we had the opportunity to hold a press conference with him on June 5, only hours after his landing.
Çavuşoğlu’s important remarks on the Turkey-U.S. road map for Manbij and Syria as well as on a four-way cooperation with the U.S., and Iraq’s central and regional governments against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq were largely reported. One other very important issue was Turkey’s persistent demands from the U.S. on the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, as well as on restricting his organization’s activities in the country.
It should be noted that according to intelligence reports, Gülen—believed to be the mastermind of the July 2016 coup attempt by the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ)—still controls the organization and keeps it active through a revenue of around $500 million, which he generates from hundreds of charters schools.
Çavuşoğlu said he raised FETÖ’s presence and activities in the U.S. during his meeting with Pompeo, who has in fact been leading the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) before his appointment as top diplomat. Pompeo had paid his first trip abroad to Ankara only weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump took office. Therefore, Ankara is sure Pompeo is fully aware of the case and consequently, Ankara’s demands.
“I told him ‘This person is floating around freely. He is threatening Turkey and sending messages. Thus, we should not allow this.’ He confirmed the Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a serious investigation [on FETÖ’s activities] as confirmed by our ambassador and other officials,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Pompeo did not share details about the investigation as he is also unaware of them, said the minister, adding that he had underlined however, that it was a “serious” one.
Turkey’s top diplomat stressed he had suggested to Pompeo that Turkey would cooperate on this by information sharing on how FETÖ have been abusing the charter schools, how they have been violating the U.S. laws.
“You know we have a representative of MASAK [Financial Crimes Investigation Board] in Washington and he is doing some very useful work. We have told them we may assist them on this. This investigation [by the FBI] is very important of course. We have both confirmed a serious and objective probe would reveal all these issues,” he said.
It was also important that another working group on bilateral consular affairs that discusses Gülen’s issue as well as the detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson and Metin Topuz, a local employee of the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, over terror charges and the sentence issued on former Halkbank manager Hakan Atilla, met on the sidelines of the Çavuşoğlu-Pompeo meeting. The group will come together in the upcoming weeks, most likely after the June 24 elections.
The decision on the road map, the start of a probe on FETÖ activities and ongoing dialogue between Ankara and Washington are surely very positive but we still need to see in which direction all these issues will drag bilateral ties. The Çavuşoğlu-Pompeo meeting has only opened a new credit in bilateral ties but yielding concrete results out of all these efforts is a must.