Think tank offers analysts hundreds of dollars to attend U.S. talk by Turkish minister

A U.S.-based pro-Turkish government think tank has offered to pay Turkish analysts to attend a speech by Turkey’s justice minister in Washington on Wednesday, according to several reports.

The Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) has been offering $350 to select attendees of Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül’s talk on Turkey's judicial reforms, according to Gönül Tol, director of the Middle East Institute's Center for Turkish Studies and assistant professor at George Washington University,

“The interpretation of my American colleagues receiving the invitation: Did you say that Turkey was in an economic crisis?” she said in a tweet last week.

In a statement, THO denied offering any payment and argued that Tol sought to destroy U.S.-Turkey relations.

“We’d like to make it clear THO was not aware of this invitation and certainly would not support such an invitation,” the statement read. “THO condemns this smear campaign by individuals whose goal is to destroy and weaken U.S.-Turkey relations for a number of different personal and ideological reasons.

Nicholas Danforth, senior visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund, saw this response as problematic.

“Accusing @gonultol of an ideologically motivated smear campaign for interpreting an email she got in the most obvious way possible is exactly the kind of thing that ensures THO is not respected in DC and makes this denial, true or not, seem so suspect,” he said on Twitter.

Responding to the THO statement, Tol posted on her Twitter what she said was an email from THO, offering her $350 to attend the event.

THO, responding again, said that an American public relations firm had sent that invitation without its knowledge, according to Sol newspaper.