European Union commissioner Johannes Hahn told the media he believes President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made his purge list before the coup:

“It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage,” Hahn said.

“I’m very concerned. It is exactly what we feared.”

The government has arrested more than 6,000 people, some who did not even know they participated in the coup. They claimed their commanders told them “they were taking part in military manoeuvres.”

On Friday night, a small fraction of the army tried to overthrow Erdoğan. They did not get very far, with the president arriving in Istanbul later that night. Red flags immediately went off during his press conference:

People on social media speculated the government faked the coup as a way for Erdoğan to grab more power:

Ryan Heath, the senior EU correspondent at Politico, used Twitter to share comments from his “Turkish source”, who called the events of Friday night a “fake coup” which would help a “fake democracy warrior” [Erdogan].

The source said: “Probably we’ll see an early election [in] which he’ll try to guarantee an unbelievable majority of the votes. And this will probably guarantee another 10-15 years of authoritarian, elected dictatorship.

“We’ll possibly see a change in the constitution for worse, which secularism will be gone and Islamist motifs will be in!”

Using the hashtag #TheatreNotCoup, a Twitter user calling himself Subsidiarity Man wrote: “Two words: Reichstag fire. The year was 1933 and you know what happened next.”

Another Twitter user quoted “my special friend in Istanbul” as calling what happened: “Most probably a real coup attempt, which was vaguely known beforehand, and was allowed to proceed, because they knew it to be disorganised and weak.

“This means it will be followed by a real coup by Erdogan himself, and the last remnants of democracy will be lost.”

Turkey, a NATO member and a country trying to join the EU, received backing from the West. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and others said their countries stand behind the democratically elected government and urged the Turkish population to do the same.

However, Erdoğan has long been a thorn in the side of his NATO allies. As prime minister and president he has squashed freedom of speech by jailing and fining anyone who insults him. He has also put restrictions on social media while taking over private media companies who dare question his regime.

Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım have also demanded the U.S. extradite Fethullah Gülen, leader of the Gülen Movement, who they blame for the coup:

“I do not see any country that would stand behind this man, this leader of the terrorist gang especially after last night. The country that would stand behind this man is no friend to Turkey. It would even be a hostile act against Turkey,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters at a press conference on July 16 as the coup attempt has been foiled earlier in the day.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. would consider Turkey’s request, but also told them to tone down the rhetoric:

Secretary Kerry also urged restraint by the Turkish government and respect for due process — and its international obligations — as it investigates and uncovers additional information about those involved. He made clear that the United States would be willing to provide assistance to Turkish authorities conducting this investigation, but that public insinuations or claims about any role by the United States in the failed coup attempt are utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations.

Gülen mentioned the government faked coup in a rare interview to The Guardian:

“I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Erdoğan,” Gülen said. “There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup and it could be meant for further accusations [against Gülen and his followers].”