Lawyers hired by the Turkish government have filed a civil suit against a political enemy of President Tayyip Erdogan in a U.S. court alleging human rights abuses, in the first such action against the U.S.-based cleric outside Turkey.
Robert Amsterdam, founder of UK-based firm Amsterdam and Partners LLP, told Reuters the suit, dated Dec. 7, had been filed in a U.S. district court in Pennsylvania, where Erdogan’s former ally, cleric Fethullah Gulen, has lived since 1999.
The suit underscores Erdogan’s widening campaign against Gulen, whom he describes as a terrorist and accuses of building a “parallel structure” within the police and judiciary to topple the government, something Gulen denies.
This year the government seized the assets of Islamic lender Bank Asya and took over at least 22 other firms with ties to Gulen, including some opposition media outlets. The crackdown has helped revive fears about press freedom in Turkey.
The U.S. suit alleges Gulen ordered his followers in the police to unlawfully arrest and detain members of a rival Islamic movement in 2009, according to a copy of the complaint seen by Reuters.