Turkish officials are warning that Fethullah Gülen may seek refuge in Canada, reports the National Post, as US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Ankara and Canada’s lack of an extradition treaty with Turkey give the cleric motive to move north. Canada’s eventual issuance of a visa for Gülen would be a “landmine” for the country’s bilateral relations with Turkey:
[The Gülen Movement] runs the Intercultural Dialogue Institute, at whose tenth annual dinner last year the keynote speech was given by Meric Gertler, president of the University of Toronto. It has also given an award to John Tory, mayor of Toronto, and hosted a speech by John Ralston Saul.
It also runs several schools, including Nile Academy in Toronto, whose two principals told the National Post in interviews that the accusations of treason and terrorism are false, offensive and damaging to their students, who follow the Ontario curriculum.
The Turkish delegation took a different view, calling Hizmet a “messianic cult,” and its schools dangerous hubs of radicalization.
“People are brainwashed, they use these schools for recruitment. This is dangerous for Canada as well,” Kani said. “Our advice is be careful about these schools.”
In the United States, Hizmet schools are also suspected of being key to a massive embezzlement and money-laundering scheme, in which Turkish Gulen followers are brought over to work, then kick back 20% of their pay to Gulen. As charter schools free to operate outside the public system, they are also suspected of skimming operating funds and sending the money back to Turkey.
“There’s no Gulen audit that comes out clean,” said Robert Amsterdam, an international lawyer who has represented high- profile opposition figures such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and who now represents Turkey in its fight against Gulen’s movement. He has conducted several investigations into the hundreds of Gulen schools in the U.S. and concluded they “operate more as indoctrination centers than as legitimate schools.”