A website dedicated to investigating Gulen-linked schools in the U.S. has been shut down following a copyright claim from Turkey.
The website — www.gulencharterschools.weebly.com — has been inaccessible since Feb. 26, when service provider Weebly took it down following a copyright infringement notice from Istanbul-based Turkish language news website, haberyildizi.com.
A website linked to the investigative site has claimed the copyright claim is “fraudulent”.
The Gulen movement, which is known as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) in Turkey, has been accused of orchestrating last July’s attempted coup in Turkey that led to 248 deaths.
Headed by Pennsylvania-based Fetullah Gulen, the organization has established a network of schools and other educational institutions, as well as businesses, around the world.
Ankara has accused the group of being behind a long-standing drive to usurp the Turkish state by infiltrating its organs, especially the police, military, judiciary and education system, and has submitted a request for Gulen’s extradition.
In addition, some Gulenist schools in the U.S. are the subject of an FBI investigation launched in 2014 into employment and financial irregularities.
Gulenist schools have reportedly received hundreds of millions of dollars in public funding.
The blocked website had provided information on more than 140 Gulen charter schools in 26 states.
According to its sister site — turkishinvitations.weebly.com — it was “wrongfully taken down by our hosting service Weebly because of a fraudulent DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] complaint originating from Turkey.”
The sister site is run by Citizens Against Special Interest Lobbying in Public Schools (CASILIPS). The group says the site is run by “citizens who became concerned about the growing influence of a secretive foreign movement in our public education system.”
Attempts by Anadolu Agency to contact those behind the account and website were unsuccessful.
CASILIPS has published a copy of the infringement notice, which concerns a single web page.
“We ask @Weebly to do the right thing: look at the evidence we’ve provided that the DMCA complaint is fraudulent. Restore our site asap,” CASILIPS tweeted on Feb. 26.
The group also called for its anonymity to be respected. “The ability of citizens/whistleblowers to blog anonymously is important for democracy,” it tweeted.
The website says it remains anonymous “because of legitimate concerns about the Gulen Movement’s retaliatory tactics.”
The complainant haberyildizi.com is owned and operated in Turkey and does not feature any English language content. Neither does it link to any English version of its selection of Turkish news articles.
CASILIPS also points out that the Internet Archive/Wayback Machine — a San Francisco-based digital library that stores website caches — shows that haberyildizi.com first appeared in 2014 and had no content until 2016. The “copyrighted” article is dated 2010.
Samples of the wording in the offending article can also be found repeatedly in its articles, CASILIPS added.
Weebly did not respond to an Anadolu Agency request for comment at the time of publication.