FETÖ faces new exam fraud accusations

FETÖ faces new exam fraud accusations

Revealing the extent of the Gülenist Terror Group's (FETÖ) secret outreach within the state, investigators discovered the group was active in exam fraud, a field it mastered, even after a heightened crackdown following its coup bid in 2016.

Muhammet Emin A., a FETÖ suspect who worked at the offices of the authority tasked with organizing nationwide exams, confessed how the group had access to questions and answers to several exams. He said they secretly installed remote access software in computers at the Measurement, Selection and Placement Center (ÖSYM) where questions and answers were stored and benefited from the theft up until authorities discovered the scam in December 2016. Police now investigate which exams the terrorist group - which is already implicated in similar fraud cases - had access to.

The terrorist group, known for its widespread infiltration of law enforcement, bureaucracy, military and judiciary, moved to seize power three times, twice in 2013 and with a coup attempt in 2016. Its bloodiest attempt was on July 15, 2016, when military officers linked to the group killed 249 people opposing the attempt. Since then, thousands of people were detained or arrested for links to FETÖ and dozens were sentenced to life for the coup attempt.

Earlier investigations have revealed that between 2009 and 2014 - the year it was designated as a national security threat - FETÖ stole questions and answers to exams for academic promotion, for the public sector as well as for rank promotions in law enforcement, judiciary and bureaucracy. The group then supplied it to its members, effectively running an infiltration scheme to further its clout, dating back to the 1980s.

Muhammet Emin A. told investigators that a fellow FETÖ member who worked as a computer engineer at ÖSYM set up a system that enabled them to copy questions and answers kept on secure servers to portable drives. The drives were then handed to a "brother" - a point man overseeing recruits in lower ranks - and the brother then proceeded to distribute them to members picked by senior cadres. Based on confessions of former members and investigations, the group at times chose the brightest students at high schools and drew them a career path - often in the military - while instructing him or her how to disguise their ties to FETÖ. Sometimes, the group orchestrated faster promotions for infiltrators otherwise unable to gain them by secretly supplying them with stolen questions and answers in critical exams.

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