An operation targeting the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), which is a part of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization’s (FETÖ) media arm and was stripped of UN status in April, was initiated following the completion of a financial crimes report as part of an investigation that has lasted over a year.
Nationwide counterterrorism operations based in Istanbul were launched on Wednesday after arrest warrants were issued for 112 suspects, 39 of whom were captured. On the arrest list was honorary president of the JWF, U.S.-based FETÖ ringleader Fetullah Gülen, as well as Mustafa Yeşil and Ekrem Dumanlı, who are fugitives. Thirty-five of those on the list were ByLock users, 56 deposited money to Bank Asya following Gülen’s orders, and 46 are fugitives.
Journalist Mehmet Gündem, whose photograph with FETÖ ringleader Gülen emerged and is a user of ByLock, was one of those captured in the counterterrorism operation. Former Zaman writer Nuh Gönültaş Behran Kılıç, Murat Akkaya, journalist Şule Büyükçizmeci, Bekir Özdemir, Today’s Zaman former writer Özgür Küçük, Fon Da Ajans administrator Saliha Yardım, Fon Da Ajans employee Şaben Gül and Halil İbrahim were also captured.
US-UK ties exposed
The JWF, which was established in 1993 under the leadership of Gülen, was shut down after the July 15 coup attempt. The organization was held under the microscope by the Istanbul Financial Branch and the Financial Crimes Investigation Board. Reports revealed that the JWF was linked to the U.S. and U.K. The JWF collected regular donations, and between 2011 and 2016, $4.857 million was transferred for “lobbying activities” from Kaynak Holding.
The foundation sent this money to media organizations in the U.S., enabling Gülen to write articles and engage in interviews. The U.S.-based internationally renowned Wall Street Journal publication was one of the organizations that received money from the JWF. The foundation sent $3.312 million to newspapers in the U.S. since 2013.
First interview follows first money transfer
When the millions of dollars transferred from Kaynak Holding to the JWF was sent to U.S. media organizations, anti-Turkey articles emerged. A special interview by the Wall Street Journal was conducted with Gülen following a money transfer in 2014. Following this interview in January, after the Dec. 17-25 incidents, Gülen criticized Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Gülen called on Western countries to intervene in Turkey, claiming that Turkey had moved away from democracy.
FETÖ prosecutors and police officers plotted a so-called graft probe against top government officials to overthrow Turkey’s elected government and launched a large-scale raid on Dec. 17-25 2013, detaining prominent figures.
Interviewer has PKK ties
One of the reporters from the Wall Street Journal who interviewed Gülen was Ayla Albayrak, who worked at the Istanbul bureau. Albayrak was recently sentenced to two years and one month in jail for circulating “terrorist propaganda” of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). The journalist, known for her support to the organizations, is now in the U.S. and was convicted in absentia.
July 15 interview
Gülen gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal on the anniversary of the July 15 coup attempt. The interview was motivated by millions of dollars funneled to the publication. The details of the photos used in the interview clearly conveyed a message to FETÖ members. The FETÖ ringleader, who stood on a prayer mat with his shoes, delivered a message to his followers with the text on the television screen. The headline of the interview, “Accused Turkish Cleric Assails President on Anniversary of Coup Attempt,” targeted President Erdoğan and conveyed FETÖ propaganda.
Funds transferred via Fon Da Ajans
Fugitive Mustafa Yeşil, who started heading the JWF in 2008, made transfers using foundations he established in the U.S. and U.K. The biggest share of the money transfers was to Fon Da Ajans, which is led by Cemal Uşak, who headed the JWF for a long time after taking over after Yeşil in 2015. This agency, which has a branch in the UK, ensured anti-Turkey news was published there by transferring money to media institutions.
FETÖ terrorists are led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gülen, who orchestrated Turkey's July 15 coup attempt and is the mastermind behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Since the failed coup, operations have been ongoing in the military, police and judiciary as well as in state institutions across the country to arrest suspects with alleged links to FETÖ.
The terrorist group is also known for its network comprised of hundreds of schools around the world.