Turkish cleric based in US denies involvement in coup

2016-07-17 08:20
Fethullah Gulen. (AP)

Fethullah Gulen. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Saylorsburg — An exiled Muslim cleric whom Turkey's president has accused of orchestrating a failed coup denied any responsibility Saturday, saying he had no knowledge of the plot.

Fethullah Gulen told reporters at his Pennsylvania compound he knows only a "minute fraction" of his legions of sympathisers in Turkey, so he cannot speak to their "potential involvement" in the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"You can think about many motivations of people who staged this coup. They could be sympathizers of the opposition party. They could be sympathizers of the nationalist party. It could be anything," Gulen, who has lived in the US for more than 15 years, said through an interpreter.

The reclusive cleric, who very rarely speaks to reporters, talked about the failed overthrow attempt shortly after Erdogan demanded that the United States extradite him. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration would entertain an extradition request but Turkey would have to prove wrongdoing by Gulen.

Looking frail, Gulen, who is in his mid-70s, sat on a sofa in a large reception room outside his living quarters, with an aide taking his blood pressure before the news conference.

'Persecuted and harassed'

He said he wouldn't have returned to Turkey even if the coup had succeeded, fearing he would be "persecuted and harassed."

"This is a tranquil and clean place and I enjoy and I live my freedom here. Longing for my homeland burns in my heart, but freedom is also equally important," said Gulen, who lives on the grounds of the Golden Generation Worship & Retreat Center, an Islamic retreat founded by Turkish-Americans.

He has criticized Erdogan, his onetime ally, over the Turkish leader's increasingly authoritarian rule. The Erdogan regime has launched a broad campaign against Gulen's movement in Turkey and abroad, purging civil servants suspected of ties to the movement, seizing businesses and closing some media organizations.

In the United States, a lawyer hired by the Turkish government has lodged numerous accusations against a network of about 150 publicly funded charter schools started by followers of Gulen, whose philosophy blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.

Nobody associated with the US schools has been charged with wrongdoing.

'No tolerance'

On Saturday, Gulen denounced Erdogan over what he called the government's "repression and persecution" of Gulen's followers in Turkey.

"It appears that they have no tolerance for any movement, any group, any organization that is not under their total control," Gulen said.

Given the chance to deliver a message directly to the Turkish leader, Gulen demurred.

"If I were to send him a message, he would probably consider it as a slur and reject it," Gulen said, adding, "but I have always prayed for myself and for him. I have prayed to God to lead us to the straight path, to the virtuous path."

About 150 supporters of Erdogan protested outside the compound Saturday, chanting and waving signs.

Read more on:    turkey  |  us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.