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Fethullah Gülen's legal cases in Turkey and U.S. immigration case

by James C. Harrington on .

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Fethullah Gülen's criminal cases in Turkey and U.S. immigration case

1971

  • Military coup d’état (March 12, 1971)
  • Fethullah Gülen arrested (May 3, 1971)
  • Gülen released; trial in military court continued (November 9, 1971)

1972

  • Conviction in military court (September 20, 1972

1973

  • Military appeals court sets aside judgment (October 24, 1973)

1974

  • Amnesty law passed (May 18, 1974); Gülen prosecution dismissed

1995

  • Nolle pros decision by Prosecutor Yüksel, exonerating Gülen of any illegal pre-1990 conduct

1997

  • “Post-modern” coup (“soft coup”) (February 28, 1997)

1999

  • Media campaign begins against Gülen (mid-June 1999)
  • Gülen comes to U.S. for medical treatment (B-2 visa) (March 21, 1999)
  • Ankara State Security Court (DGM) Prosecutor Yüksel opens file on Gülen
  • B-2 visa extended to March 20, 2000 (August 17, 1999)

2000

  • Prosecutor Yüksel seeks arrest warrant for Gülen
  • B-2 visa extended to September 20, 2000 (May 20, 2000)
  • Ankara No. 1 State Security Court (DGM) rejects arrest warrant; prosecutor objects to No. 2 State Security Court
  • I-129 (religious worker) approved through June 19, 2003 (June 20, 2000)

2001

  • Gülen’s defense deposition taken in U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark (November 28, 2001)
  • Gülen applies for I-360 as a Special Immigrant Religious Worker in U.S. (April 30, 2001)

2002

  • Parliament passes revised 5-year suspension/amnesty law (May 21, 2002)
  • USCIS approves I-360 as a Special Immigrant Religious Worker in U.S. (August 7, 2002)
  • Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors removes and transfers Prosecutor Yüksel after videotape of sexual encounter emerges (October 21, 2002)
  • Gülen applies for permanent status and employment authorization in U.S. (October 18, 2002)

2003

  • Operation Sledgehammer plan developed
  • Final arguments in trial court (March 3, 2003)
  • Final decision delayed for five years based on suspension Law No. 4616 (March 10, 2003)
  • Gülen’s attorneys and prosecutor both object to delay, but overruled by Ankara No. 1 DGM (April 3, 2003)
  • Security clearance by Turkish authorities (no criminal record) (September 16, 2003)
  • First Adjustment of Status Interview by USCIS (September 17, 2003)
  • Law No. 4928 (effective July 15, 2003), amends definition of terrorist organization in Anti-Terror Law No. 3713, article 1
  • USCIS issues advance parole; valid until October 9, 2004

2004

  • Turkey abolishes State Security Courts (DGM); Gülen’s case assigned to No. 11 High Criminal Court in Ankara (June 2004)
  • Process begins to slow noticeably. File still in USCIS Philadelphia office
  • Application for Travel Document (October 27, 2004)

2005

  • Gülen’s attorney advised that biometric tapes of Gülen that USCIS submitted to FBI and CIA in 2003 had been lost, but suddenly were found.
  • Turkey Criminal Code Law No. 756, art. 313 amended by Law No. 5237 (effective June 1, 2005)
  • Interpol Washington D.C. requests criminal history check on Gülen from Interpol Turkey (November 10, 2005)
  • Interpol Turkey response: no criminal history and Gülen also condemns crime and terrorist activities (November 25, 2005)
  • File transferred to Washington, D.C.

2006

  • Gülen’s attorneys petition to restart case (March 7, 2006)
  • Second Adjustment of Status Interview of conducted by USCIS Washington, D.C. staff (January 12, 2006)
  • High Criminal Court requests report from police about Gülen’s involvement in any criminal action, including the use of violence or force. Report indicates Gülen never involved in any crime, violence, or forceful action (March 7, 2006)
  • USCIS appears unannounced on Friday, Muslim Sabbath, to interview Gülen and others and search premises without warrant. Officer in charge suggests to Gülen’s attorney by phone during search that Gülen withdraw application for permanent residence in return for which USCIS would not enter anything in his file that would prevent him from returning to U.S. once he leaves (May 12, 2006)
  • Ankara No. 11 High Criminal Court acquits F. Gülen (May 5, 2006)
  • Additional documents submitted to USCIS Philadelphia office (as requested on February 21, 2006), including acquittal information (May 15 or 16? 2006)
  • Prosecutor appeals criminal court acquittal
  • USCIS issues Advance Parole travel document, but valid only until July 15, 2006 and only for one entry, both conditions being highly unusual.
  • Application for Employment Authorization filed for Gülen (August 14, 2006)
  • Gülen files self-sponsored Extraordinary Ability Immigrant Petition (I-140) with premium processing ($1,000 fee), guaranteeing adjudication in 15 business days (November 11, 2006)
  • USCIS revokes I-360 Special Immigrant Religious Worker Petition (November 14, 2006)
  • Gülen files Notice of Appeal of the denial of I-360 (November 29 and 30, 2006)
  • Request to Reopen I-360 revocation based on USCIS error (December 1, 2006)
  • Attorney requests refund of $1,000 processing fee since USCIS did not adjudicate within 15 business days (no response) (December 14, 2006)

2007

  • USCIS vacates revocation of Gülen’s I-360 (April 25, 2007)
  • Federal suit filed to compel USCIS to grant immigration status for Gülen (May 25, 2007)
  • Police raid that eventually leads to Ergenekon investigation and trials (June 12, 2007)
  • USCIS revokes Gülen’s I-360 (August 21, 2007)
  • USCIS denies Gülen’s I-140 (November 19, 2007)

2008

  • Five-judge panel of Supreme Court of Appeals unanimously upholds acquittal (March 5, 2008)
  • USCIS denies appeal of the denial of I-360 (March 7, 2008)
  • Prosecutor appeals to full en banc tribunal Supreme Court of Appeals
  • Judgment issued for F. Gülen and against USCIS on I-140 issue; judge orders Secretary of Homeland Security to approve Gülen’s I-140 petition by August 1, 2008 (July 16, 2008)
  • Supreme Court of Appeals en banc upholds appellate panel decision by 17-6 vote (June 24, 2008)
  • Judge orders briefing on I-360 issue (September 26, 2008)
  • USCIS finally grants permanent resident status (I-485) to Fethullah Gülen (October 10, 2008)

2009

  • Parties voluntarily dismiss case (February 25, 2009)

Taken from "Wrestling with free speech, religious freedom, and democracy in Turkey" by James C. Harrington, University Press of America, May 2011.