Prosecutors in Istanbul accused six suspected members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), who were captured in March 2018 in Kosovo, of membership in a terrorist group and international espionage. The suspects, who were brought to Turkey face prison terms up to 28 years.
An indictment by the Chief Prosecutor's Office that was made public yesterday says the men were high-ranking figures in FETÖ for the group's Balkan leg. The terrorist group already faces a long sheet of charges and the most serious among them is instigating the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed 251 people. The suspects were staff members at FETÖ-run schools in Kosovo, and the indictment says those schools, like others run by the group in other countries, were "a front" for FETÖ to run espionage activities. "The real purpose is collecting security and intelligence information regarding the host country and convey it to other countries that FETÖ cooperates with," the indictment says.
According to the indictment, "data regarding Kosovo state's administrators" were found on the cellphone of one of the accused. Another defendant is also accused of forging documents used as evidence in Ergenekon, a trial in Turkey that turned out to be a sham trial against FETÖ's critics. FETÖ is known for imprisoning its critics and opponents through such trials launched and aided by the group's infiltrators in the judiciary and law enforcement.
Following the 2016 coup attempt, Turkey sped up extradition processes for FETÖ members abroad and brought dozens of people from various countries where they were arrested and handed over to Turkey for trial. An unknown number of Gülenists, mostly high-ranking figures, fled Turkey when the coup attempt was thwarted. A large number of Gülenists had already left the country prior to the coup attempt after Turkish prosecutors launched investigations into other crimes by the terrorist group. Media reports say the country has so far identified some 4,600 suspected members of the group around the world. Turkish courts also sporadically issue arrest warrants for FETÖ members abroad. Ankara has long complained of reluctance by European countries and the U.S. to cooperate in the fight against FETÖ. FETÖ suspects mostly live in the U.S., Germany and Canada. A majority of Turkey's allies in Africa and Asia have shut down FETÖ-linked schools and have already extradited wanted suspects.