Gülen's nephew, 90 others, new suspects in mass exam cheating scandal

Published 17.11.2016 23:33

Prosecutors in the capital Ankara named a nephew of Fetullah Gülen, leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and 90 others as suspects in a new investigation into allegations of mass cheating in an exam for civil servants in 2010. Muhammet Sait Gülen and others are accused of forgery and fraud for stealing and supplying questions and answers to exams and giving them to people linked to the terror cult. The terror cult is accused of using the Public Personnel Selection Exam (KPSS) to help its followers infiltrate the bureaucracy.

If the court accepts the indictment by the prosecutors, it will be the fifth trial involving Gülenists, who already face charges of fraud and membership in a terrorist group in other cases related to the KPSS. Hundreds were already implicated in the cases on the exam, from people working in Gülen-linked companies to wives of military officers with ties to Gülen.

Yalçın Baransu, brother of Mehmet Baransu, a journalist jailed for his ties to the terror cult, is among the suspects in the new indictment accused of stealing questions and answers to the exam and giving them to those sitting the exam. His wife is also among the suspects accused of cheating. He published what he claimed to be evidence related to a case of an alleged coup plot by military officers in 2010 that later turned out to be a plot by FETÖ to imprison its critics on trumped-up charges.

Prosecutors say that out of the 3,227 people passing the exam with the highest grades, 1,970 had intricate ties including multiple phone calls and more than half of them skipped the new exam held after the 2010 edition was canceled over cheating allegations, in order to dodge suspicions. The indictment also claims "61 percent" of suspects had ties to Mehmet Hanefi Sözen and Nebil Ekiz, two suspects currently at large who were working at a prep school and a nongovernmental organization linked to the terror cult when they allegedly obtained questions and answers to the exam and distributed them to FETÖ followers. Prosecutors say 896 participants who scored highly on the exam were married couples. Other interesting links between suspects are that the majority of suspects who scored high marks in the exam were working in the same companies and most of them gave the same address as the address of their residence while applying for the exam.

The indictment underlines that the "theft of questions and the answers was the work of an organization" and FETÖ used it to "infiltrate into the state." It also claims the terror cult obtained questions and answers in numerous exams, from an exam for the promotion and assignment of judges to an academic promotion exam, as well as exams for admission into military schools. Former Gülenists say the terror cult's point men in the bureaucracy would often supply questions and answers to the group's loyal members for infiltration into state agencies and institutions and those who passed the exam and were employed in the public sector would be forced to pay a portion of their monthly salary to the terror cult.

Out of 91 suspects, 34 were users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app exclusively used by the terror cult's members in Turkey, while 21 suspects had contacts with senior figures in the group.

Denizhan Özcan, one of the top scorers in the 2010 exam, had confessed in his testimony that Yalçın Baransu visited him a few days before the exam and gave questions and answers on a memory stick. Baransu also brought his own laptop computer and told Özcan to use the memory stick only in that computer to memorize answers. Three suspects who scored the highest grades were found to have wired TL 13,000 ($4,200) to Yalçın Baransu's bank account after the exam.

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