A photo showing a U.S. official from the Federal Bureau of Investigation at a dinner hosted by an affiliate of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) raised outrage in Turkey, where the group is accused of orchestrating last year's fatal coup attempt.
FETÖ already enjoys support from several U.S. Congress members, who defend the group as an innocent non-profit organization, but a blatant display of support by the FBI has raised eyebrows.
In the photo, FBI Special Agent Stephen Woolery and local police officers were seen with officials of the Pacifica Institute, a FETÖ-linked think-tank in an iftar (fast-breaking) dinner in Los Angeles.
The photo, which was released on the institute's Twitter account, led to Turkish social media users venting fury.
One Twitter user wrote, "Congratulations, FBI. You are eating with terrorists."
Although the FBI had investigated a FETÖ-linked charter school chain a few years ago, the U.S. agency establishes links to Muslim communities and even gave a community leadership award to Pacifica in 2016.
Apart from the coup attempt last year, FETÖ, run by Fetullah Gülen, a former preacher who currently lives in Pennsylvania, is accused of two attempts to topple the Turkish government in 2013.
Its infiltrators in the police and judiciary had conducted probes based on false allegations against people close to Ankara.
Currently, the terrorist group faces a large number of trials for last year's coup attempt, the illegal wiretapping of thousands of people, blackmail, running sham trials and other crimes.
Gülen and other senior members of the group face multiple life sentences in the trials and Ankara has been formally seeking their extraditions from the U.S.
The terrorist group, which long posed as a charity movement to attract followers, runs a global network of schools and companies. It runs charter schools in several U.S. states, ranging from California to New Jersey.
It also operates think-tanks, non-profit organizations like Pacifica and is accused of funding U.S. politicians through donations to lobby against Turkey and in favor of the terrorist group.
Last month, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched a probe into 17 individuals including U.S. politicians, bureaucrats and academics, who are suspected of being linked to FETÖ.
The suspects have been accused of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and being members of a terrorist group.
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) President David Cohen and the director of the Middle East Program at Wilson Center Henri Barkey are among the suspects.
The prosecutor's office is investigating several of the suspects who met in Istanbul on the day the coup was attempted on July 15, 2016 and after that on July 17, 2016. In addition their entries into Turkey and their alleged links to other FETÖ suspects are also being probed.
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