Looking to cut off financing to the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ), authorities turned their attentions to universities linked to the group accused of masterminding two coup attempts in 2013.
FETÖ, originated from the shady Gülen Movement that was behind a string of crimes ranging from fraud, blackmail, illegal wiretapping, sham trials apart from the coup attempts, is accused of cultivating profits from private-run universities it ran in the country. Gülenists used to be primarily known for their global network of schools and as a religious group led by U.S.-based former preacher Fethullah Gülen. However, operations over the past three years revealed the group's seedy side as an omnipresent entity that infiltrated the police, judiciary and bureaucracy, scheming to weed out its critics and overthrow the government.
İpek and Mevlana, two universities named after a prominent Gülen-linked fugitive tycoon and a 13th-century mystic respectively, will likely be handed over to state universities as prosecutors requested from Higher Education Board (YÖK) overseeing the universities in Turkey. The move is a measure to stop the financing of FETÖ's illegal activities. Administrations of two other universities located in Istanbul and the western city of İzmir were previously accused of selling university assets to Gülenists for low prices and through fraudulent sales. Universities were burdened with heavy debts due to fraud and unable to pay lecturers, causing the disruption of the education for hundreds of students who paid tuition in advance.
A state-run audit board is already running a probe into 17 universities associated with Gülenists.
The Gülen Movement has seen members and sympathizers purged from state institutions, the police and judiciary since charges against them surfaced a few years ago. It was designated by authorities as "a national threat," a classification for terrorist organizations.
Gülenists are accused of illegally wiretapping thousands of people, from the prime minister to journalists and prominent figures. They are also accused of imprisoning critics or anyone seen as an obstacle to the movement's attempts to gain further clout, and have used sham trials to silence opponents through their members in police, judiciary and upper echelons of bureaucracy. Hundreds of generals, academics and dignitaries were detained for years, in cases where they were accused of staging coups. It was later revealed they were detained on charges based on false evidence planted by Gülenist members in law enforcement.