U.S. based cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
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A network of more than 150 U.S. charter schools linked to followers of Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based Muslim preacher the Turkish government blames for instigating July's failed coup, has come under growing financial and legal strain, according to school officials, current and former members of Gulen's movement, and public records reviewed by Reuters. The publicly financed schools, a key source of jobs and business opportunities for U.S. members of Gulen's global movement, have sharply slowed their expansion in recent years, public records show.The increased pressure on the schools also comes as the Turkish government is cracking down on Gulen supporters at home and presses hard for Gulen's extradition.At the same time, 15 schools have been closed or transferred to owners with no connection to Gulen's movement since 2010 .Berberoglu said that the schools are not officially affiliated with Gulen and are not centrally controlled by anyone.The trend reflects a desire by the schools linked to Gulen followers to avoid further government scrutiny, according to current and former members of the movement.Aslandogan acknowledged that some of the schools were started by Gulen "sympathizers".
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