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Former school employees admit to transferring US public funds to FETÖ

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

Former employees who worked at charter schools in the U.S. have admitted that they transferred their monthly salaries, paid by U.S. taxpayers, to the group's bank accounts, a report by CBS News claimed.

Ersin Konkur and Mustafa Emanet, both former employees of Gülenist-run charter schools in the U.S., told CBS News that they gave a certain portion of their salaries to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

"I was paying around 40 percent of my salary," Emanet was quoted as saying.

The article states that "based on information provided by Emanet, federal investigators believe former officials at his Ohio school illegally paid themselves about $5 million in federal contracts and then sent those U.S. tax dollars to Bank Asya, a bank in Turkey linked to Gülen's followers."

Konkur was also quoted as saying that he was forced to donate his salary.

"They were asking for cash but in my last two years, I paid some of them by check," he said.

According to CBS News, FETÖ has "opened 136 charter schools in 28 states, operating on more than $2.1 billion of taxpayer dollars since 2010."

A group of charter schools affiliated with FETÖ in the U.S. state of New Jersey last year collected tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, according to an investigative report published by a local daily last month.

The investigation conducted by The Record newspaper and its website, NorthJersey.com, revealed that some founders of these schools have close ties to the FETÖ network.

It found that seven schools in the state collected over "$60 million in taxpayer money last year alone to fund their growth."

FETÖ's schools in the U.S. are usually gathered under an umbrella organization and are managed through foundations. As an example, there are 46 schools, all operating under the "Harmony" name in Texas, 30 schools under the "Concept" name in and around Ohio and 11 school campuses under the name "Magnolia" in California.

Some of FETÖ's schools are currently under investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for irregularities, unlawful profit, corruption, fraudulent contractual tenders and forgery of documents.

Emanet was hired by Chicago-based Concept Schools charter school network in 2006 as a computer network technician. His employment at one of the schools in Cleveland was not without its troubles, namely the seizure of 40 percent of his salary for "himmet," a donation to the movement. He accepted it and continued working at the school where he met teacher Mary Addi, his future wife. It was only after Addi filed a lawsuit against the school chain for discrimination of women and Americans that Emanet saw the dark side of the movement.

Teachers linked to the Gülen Movement pressed Emanet to divorce her after the lawsuit. While pressure increased, Emanet came across documents allegedly proving fraud at the school chain, ranging from a secret regulation by the movement to seize salaries of teachers it brought from Turkey and documents showing how school funds were diverted to companies linked to companies affiliated with the movement. He proceeded to present these documents to the courts that look into lawsuits filed by teachers at charter schools. Soon, Gülenists approached him to persuade Emanet to withdraw the documents. He said they asked him to sign a document in English that would acknowledge the documents he presented to the court were fake. He said Gülenists pressed him to withdraw the documents that they said: "Our schools in other countries will be closed down if schools in the United States are shut down."

He was not daunted by the pressure and handed all documents proving the "dirty work" at the Gülen schools to the FBI in 2009. The FBI started a probe in 2011 based on the evidence and raided 19 schools operated by Concept Schools last year. "Unfortunately, the FBI acted too slow. They did not believe me for years," he said.

Documentarist Mark Hall, the director of a documentary "Killing Ed" that focuses on the FETÖ web of charter schools in the U.S., criticized the U.S. government for providing federal financial aid to the network of schools across the country, raising the question, "Were our [Americans'] taxes spent to carry out a violent military coup in Turkey?"

"Killing Ed" is a documentary film about "charter schools, corruption and the Gülen Movement in America," according to filmmakers. It offers "a shocking, first-hand look inside the schools while revealing the corruption of those attempting to privatize public schools through education reform in America," according to the film's official website which also describes "questionable academic labor" practices in schools operated by FETÖ as the "worst-case scenario for taxpayer-funded charter schools."
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