ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusogolu on Saturday alleged that followers of a US-based cleric's movement that opposes Ankara government had infiltrated into American diplomatic missions, judiciary, and the Congress.
"FETO has infiltrated into US diplomatic mission, and the American judiciary and the Congress, everywhere, all the institutions; one way or another, legally or illegally. We tell this to Americans' face. We are not talking behind them," Cavusoglu said, according to state media.
The acronym "FETO" for stands for "Fethullahist Terror Organization," a Turkish government designation for the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen's movement which calls itself "Hizmet," or the Service.
Cavusoglu's allegations come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Ankara, as a federal New York court continued the trial this week of a Turkish-Iranian tycoon Reza Zarrab charged with breaching US sanctions on Iran with support from and collaboration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several former cabinet members.
The Minister also accused the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) of being under instructions from Gulenists.
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu claimed on Wednesday that Erdogan and his family members had offshore accounts of firms valued in millions of US dollars in the Isle of Man.
Gulen, a reclusive religious authority once with thousands of followers in Turkish bureaucracy, politics, judiciary, and military, is a one-time ally and current opponent of Erdogan's government.
The Zarrab case goes back to late 2013 when Turkish police arrested him along with 51 others in a massive corruption scandal that implicated four ministers, the manager of the state-owned bank Halkbank and Erdogan's son in illicit financial dealings and bribery that numbered in hundreds of millions of US Dollars.
The then Prime Minister Erdogan said it was a plot against his government and accused police officers and prosecutors of being Gulenists.
On Thursday, Zarrab who hold dual Iranian-Turkish citizenship told the New York court that Erdogan personally approved his evasion of sanctions on Iran.
American courts "cannot put my country comprised of FETO representative on trial," Erdogan vowed during a weekend visit to the city of Kars.
Last month, Ankara issued two diplomatic notes of protest to the US over the Zarrab trial.
Chief Public Prosecutor's office in Istanbul put a freeze on Zarrab's assets and properties on Friday, accusing him of "engaging in political and military espionage on behalf of a foreign government."
Ankara holds Gulen and his followers of masterminding last year's failed coup attempt against Erdogan's rule that resulted in the killing of over 250 people, mostly civilians and a widespread, ongoing government purge of soldiers and civil servants.
The two NATO allies' ties continue to sour over US refusal to extradite Gulen and Pentagon's military support for Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.
In October both countries mutually suspended issuing all non-immigrant visas over Turkish detention of at least two US consular employees with alleged ties to Gulenists and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Editing by Sam A.