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Senior AKP figure faces legal proceedings for claiming Diyanet has links to terrorism

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Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) has announced that they had filed a criminal complaint against an official from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) due to the official’s allegations that some administrators of the directorate have links to terrorism, local media reported on Thursday.

Metin Külünk, a close confidant of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and a member of the AKP’s Central Decision and Management Board (MKYK), claimed that Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey’s top religious authority has links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Külünk alleged that Erbaş is turning a blind eye to excessive payments made to some companies identified by intelligence as providing support to the PKK, thus enabling them to earn illegal gains.

More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between Turkish security forces and the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The AKP official further claimed that members of FETÖ, a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement as a terrorist organization, still hold high-ranking positions within the Diyanet and that a senior executive is protecting some personnel within the institution that have alleged links to the movement.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, inspired by the views of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a terrorist organization. Gülen and his movement strongly deny any involvement in the failed putsch and any terrorist activity.

According to Turkish media reports, the Diyanet said in a press statement released on its official website on Thursday that they had filed a criminal complaint against Külünk for his claims about the directorate’s links to terrorism.

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