GeriGündem U.S. court greenlights a green card for Turk sect leader
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U.S. court greenlights a green card for Turk sect leader

U.S. court greenlights a green card for Turk sect leader
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A U.S. court has ruled that the Bush administration improperly rejected a Turkish sect leader's application for permanent residency in the United States and ordered the government to reverse its decision. Fethullah Gulen, Turkey's most controversial religious sect leader, has been living in the United States since 1999.

U.S. immigration authorities rejected Gulen's application to be classified as "an alien of extraordinary ability", a step that would have facilitated his permanent residence.

A federal court ruled Wednesday that the decision was improper, according to court documents.   

Gulen has been living in exile in the U.S. fleeing charges brought against him in Turkey of forming an illegal terrorist organization that aimed to introduce Sharia law using force and violence. A Turkish top court upheld the ruling of a lower court to acquit Gulen, paving the way for his return.

Gulen, Turkey's most controversial religious leader has close relations with the ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and has a broad following; however, many in Turkey believe he is plotting to dismantle the secular state.

Immigration officials had argued that Gulen did not meet the qualification of extraordinary ability in his field "demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation."

Gulen’s lawyer, H. Ronald Klasko, said he did not understand the U.S. government’s argument that he did not meet the requirements.

"For whatever reason, the government has decided to fight his application," he was quoted by the AP as saying. "Their arguments were very strange to me."

The U.S. court’s decision means that Gulen can now apply for permanent residency under a more favorable category. The judge scheduled another hearing for next month and could order the government to decide on Gulen’s residency application. The government could also appeal Wednesday’s ruling.

U.S. officials declined to comment on the decision Thursday.

"We have just received the judgment and have forwarded it to the appropriate Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security officials for their review," said Patty Hartman, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Philadelphia, where the case was heard.

Gulen, the author of dozens of books on religion, science and philosophy, has a strong presence in education not only in Turkey but also in the Balkans, Central Asia and Africa. His network also includes a university, a newspaper and a number of businesses.


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