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VICE News Segment Featuring Lawyer Robert Amsterdam Investigates Fethullah Gülen’s US Charter Schools

Whistleblower accuses New York charter school of being run by "Turkish mafia;" interviewees point to alleged cheating, subpar teaching

Washington, DC, United States – WEBWIRE

I think the goal of the school is to get the taxpayer dollars to help fund their movement. And our kids our paying the price for it.

A secretive network of charter schools allegedly tied to the US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen were featured on a recent segment aired by VICE News on HBO on January 18, 2018, including interviews with former employees and parents of the Syracuse Academy of Science.

The segment featured an interview with international lawyer Robert Amsterdam, who acts on behalf of the Republic of Turkey and who recently published a +600 page book on the Gülen charter schools titled “Empire of Deceit.”

In the VICE interview, Amsterdam says he is continuing the investigation with an upcoming second book, commenting, “the Gülen organization and the movement are a danger to the national security of the United States.”

In the segment, a VICE News investigative team visits the Syracuse Academy of Science in upstate New York, a charter school allegedly linked to the Gülen organization.

“Turkish teachers came in every year, they were not certified, they were not very strong with their English language skills, so a lot of times the kids would struggle,” said Patrick McGowan, a whistleblower and former teacher at the school interviewed by VICE News. “It’s almost like a Turkish mafia runs the school.”

Another former human resources manager at the Syracuse school explains that in order to meet state requirements and get more public funding, the school would falsify academic records: “The first time I actually witnessed this type of cheating it came from the teacher, and that teacher showed me the documents of grades being changed on students’ report cards,” the whistleblower said in the interview.

Parents and students interviewed by VICE News were also outraged by the subpar quality of education at the Gülen schools.

“They brag about 98% of their kids being accepted to college. But when you look at it, how many of those kids actually make it through the first year?” says Gwendolyn Muok, whose daughter attended the Syracuse Academy of Science, in the segment. “I think the goal of the school is to get the taxpayer dollars to help fund their movement. And our kids our paying the price for it.”

Recently, the alleged abusive conduct of the Gülen schools has attracted attention of civil rights groups. In November 2017, the California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) passed a resolution demanding investigations into this organization. But in many other states, politicians have been hesitant to act because of the lobbying strength and pervasive political contributions of Gülenists, says Amsterdam.

“Gulen and his PR people have been extraordinarily effective at deflecting the conversation,” Amsterdam said to VICE, explaining how the organization has managed to escape accountability. “Even Gülen’s representative interviewed in the segment had no answers, no specific factual disagreements with the public record evidence published in ‘Empire of Deceit,’” Amsterdam says.

“This book is about the unregulated nature of a very dangerous cult in the United States,” says Amsterdam, “and that’s what matters.”

“Empire of Deceit” is available as a free download at

This material is distributed by Amsterdam & Partners LLP / the Republic of Turkey. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, DC.


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