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NGO offers $350 for participating in Turkish minister’s roundtable in Washington

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Gönül Tol, the founding director of the Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies, claimed on Thursday that experts in Washington were offered $350 each to attend an event featuring Turkish Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül, the Ahval news website reported.

“The Minister of Justice Gül is going to talk about the Justice Reform Strategy in Washington. Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) which hosts the event offers $350 to participants,” Tol tweeted. “The comment of my American colleagues who received the invitation: ‘Did you say that Turkey was going through an economic crisis?’”

A day afterward, she shared a tweet showing the original invitation as coming from a certain John Cpin, promising $350 for attending the meeting.

Nate Schenkkan, another Turkey expert from Freedom House, pointed out that Cpin is not registered as a Turkey lobbyist according to Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) records.

In response, THO President Ali Çınar reacted to Tol’s tweets and claimed the Cpin’s emails were sent without the knowledge of his organization.

THO denies affiliation with any political party and is listed as a civil society group in the US, though it is known for receiving funding from pro-government businesses.

Gül is scheduled to visit Washington next week for a series of meetings that may or may not include a face-to-face with his US counterpart. What is known is that Turkey’s embassy has been in frequent contact with Congress to arrange meetings between Gül and leaders from both houses.

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