Gulen: Turkish coup may have been staged by Erdogan

by WorldTribune Staff, July 17, 2016

The failed coup attempt in Turkey was poorly planned and executed and could have been “staged” by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to cleric and Hizmet movement leader Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen, who lives in exile in the United States, rejected any accusation that he was behind the coup. The Hizmet movement, which emphasizes community service in tandem with conservative religious values, has millions of followers and is generally considered to be the proponent of a moderate form of Islam.

Fethullah Gulen. /AP
Fethullah Gulen. /AP

Erdogan has called on U.S. President Barack Obama to arrest Gulen and deport him to Turkey. Erdogan said Turkey had never turned back any extradition request for “terrorists” by the U.S., adding: “I say if we are strategic partners then you should bring about our request.”

“I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Erdogan,” Gulen said on July 16. “There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup and it could be meant for further accusations [against Gulen and his followers].”

Alp Aslandogan, media adviser to Gulen, said “the coup appears to be poorly planned, very poorly executed and everything seems to be playing into Erdogan’s hands. There are many big question marks of how [this attempted coup] was executed.”

Gulen said he rejected all military interventions in Turkey, and said he had personally suffered after the coups of the 1990s.

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

“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,” Gulen told the UK’s Guardian.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke to reporters in Luxembourg, said “we fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr. Gulen. And obviously we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny. And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments about it appropriately.”

Gulen rarely leaves the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center complex in Pennsylvania, where his movement offers religious instruction.

Aslandogan said “the U.S. government position has always been that if there is any evidence of Mr. Gulen breaking the laws, they will look into it. So far, the Turkish government hasn’t produced anything. Thank God, this is a country of laws, and we depend on that.”