Turkish authorities have demanded the U.S. extradite Fethullah Gülen, leader of the Gülen Movement, because they believe he orchestrated the coup. They even said keeping him in the states is a “hostile act” towards the regime:

“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 told Yıldırım he would look over Turkey’s request, but also warned them not use this kind of rhetoric against the U.S.:

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.

Kerry also insisted the U.S. did not have knowledge of a planned coup against Erdoğan:

“If you’re planning a coup, you don’t exactly advertise to your partners in NATO,” Kerry said. “So it surprised everyone. It does not appear to be a very brilliantly planned or executed event.”

One Turkish official told the Associated Press that the government will start a formal extradition request, adding the coup is just “one more thing to add to an already extensive list.”

Gülen remained an ally of Erdoğan until 2013 when the courts launched a corruption investigation against the then-prime minister. Erdoğan quickly squashed the investigation, but blamed his old ally “for orchestrating the scandal.”

As The Wall Street Journal pointed out, the conversation “exposed longstanding tensions between the two governments.” 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.

Now Gülen has come out to say that Erdoğan staged the coup as a power grab:

“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].”

He does not understand why anyone would think he would start a military coup since he fell victim to the coups in the 1990s. He went on a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania in 1999 to escape possible charges against the then-Turkish government and showed a desire to make the country an Islamic state:

“After military coups in Turkey,” he said, “I have been pressured and I have been imprisoned. I have been tried and faced various forms of harassment.”

He added: “Now that Turkey is on the path to democracy, it cannot turn back.”

Asked by the Guardian whether he would have returned to Turkey had the coup been successful, Gülen said: “Indeed, I miss my homeland a lot. But there is another important factor, which is freedom. I am here, away from the political troubles in Turkey and I live with my freedom.”


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