Turkish cleric Gulen says Erdogan behind coup, willing to be extradited

July 18, 2016
U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers Turkey blames for a failed coup, is shown in still image taken from video, speaks to journalists at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania July 16, 2016. Gulen said democracy cannot be achieved through military action.  REUTERS/Greg Savoy/Reuters TV

(U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen speaks to journalists at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Greg Savoy/Reuters TV)

U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers Turkey blames for a failed coup, said on Sunday that he would obey any extradition ruling from the United States but said that President Tayyip Erdogan had staged the putsch.

“I am not really worried about the extradition request,” Gulen told reporters, speaking through a translator in Pennsylvania where he lives.

Turkey has said it is putting together an extradition request for the cleric. The U.S. government has said it would consider any formal request.

Gulen on Saturday denied accusations he played a role in the attempted coup in Turkey and said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the attempt to topple the government.

“As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations,” said the cleric who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for years.

Erdogan and the government have said that Gulen’s followers in the military were responsible for the attempted take-over on Friday night and early Saturday morning.

The government accuses Gulen of trying to create a “parallel structure” in the police, judiciary, media and armed forces, aimed at taking over the state, a charge the cleric denies.

“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey,” Gulen said in a statement.

 

A U.S.-based organization close to Gulen also denied involvement in Friday’s coup attempt against Erdogan.

“We condemn any military intervention in domestic¬†politics of Turkey,” the Alliance for Shared Values group said in a statement.¬†“Comments by pro-Erdogan circles about the movement are highly irresponsible,” it said.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said in a television interview that members of the movement loyal to Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, were involved in the attempted military takeover.

Ankara has demanded Washington hand him over. Washington says it is prepared to extradite him but only if Turkey provides evidence linking him to crime. Yildirim rejected that demand.

“We would be disappointed if our (American) friends told us to present proof even though members of the assassin organization are trying to destroy an elected government under the directions of that person,” Yildirim said.

“At this stage there could even be a questioning of our friendship,” Yildirim added.

Yildirim said 232 people were killed in Friday night’s violence, 208 of them civilians, police and loyalist soldiers, and a further 24 coup plotters. Officials previously said the overall death toll was more than 290.ok

 

Source: Turkish cleric Gulen says Erdogan behind coup, willing to be extradited | Reuters

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