A website investigating activities of charter schools belonging to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) was wrongfully taken down by its hosting service after fraudulent complaints by someone in Turkey, reports said on Wednesday.
The website www.gulencharterschools.weebly.com, which had been in operation since 2010, was reportedly taken down without any notice.
According to its sister site -- turkishinvitations.weebly.com -- it was "wrongfully taken down by our hosting service Weebly because of a fraudulent DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] complaint originating from Turkey."
The sister site is run by Citizens Against Special Interest Lobbying in Public Schools (CASILIPS). The group says the site is run by "citizens who became concerned about the growing influence of a secretive foreign movement in our public education system."
In a statement published online, CASILIPS noted that the incident prevented many people from "visiting the site at a time when Gulen charter schools such as the chain in New Jersey were in the news, generating interest in the topic."
Moreover, they noted that an editor of a news website haberyildizi.com based in Turkey had submitted the request to take down content which he claimed was copyrighted.
"Before it was possible to communicate to Weebly that this claim was fraudulent, Weebly had already taken down the entire gulencharterschools.weebly.com website, even though the complaint was about only one page" the statement by the website owners said, adding that the haberyildizi.com website actually plagiarized from gulencharterschools.weebly.com and provided Google cache of the page, as well as a search by Internet Archive/Wayback Machine.
More importantly, they note that the website in question publishes in Turkish, but the specific article in question was written in English and does not resemble a news story.
The group also called for its anonymity to be respected. "The ability of citizens/whistleblowers to blog anonymously is important for democracy," it tweeted.
The website says it remains anonymous "because of legitimate concerns" about FETÖ's retaliatory tactics.
FETÖ operates 140 charter schools in 26 states in the U.S. and have faced criticism from different circles.
Charter schools linked to FETÖ in the U.S. are facing several probes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in four states, although the FBI is quiet about the progress of the probes, which is reportedly focused on shady business practices by the charter school chains.
The schools in the U.S., some of which have changed names over time, were opened in the late 1990s and beginning of the 2000s. Around 60,000 students attend the schools annually.
FETÖ's schools in the U.S. are usually gathered under umbrella organizations and are managed through foundations. As an example, there are 46 schools, all under the name "Harmony" in Texas, 30 schools under the name "Concept" in and around Ohio, as well as Magnolia.
While the judicial processes continue over FETÖ's schools in the U.S., the American public has also started to express more doubts about the schools, according to U.S. media reports.
Residing in Pennsylvania since 1999, FETÖ's leader Fethullah Gülen is known as the man who controls these schools and the $500 million annual income.
International law firm Amsterdam & Partners recently launched legal action against FETÖ-linked charter schools in the United States.
FETÖ is the terror group behind the failed July 15 coup attempt in Turkey and a string of crimes including two previous attempts to overthrow democratically-elected governments, money laundering, sham trials and imprisonment of its foes thanks to its infiltrators within the police and judiciary systems.
FETÖ also runs a global network of schools, from Africa to Central Asia, where it recruits more followers into the group.