Turkey vows to root out group behind failed coup

President Erdogan at a midnight rally in Istanbul on Monday. The Turkish leader and government accuse US-based Mr Gulen of orchestrating last Friday's abortive military takeover. The subsequent and ongoing crackdown, and calls to reinstate the death
President Erdogan at a midnight rally in Istanbul on Monday. The Turkish leader and government accuse US-based Mr Gulen of orchestrating last Friday's abortive military takeover. The subsequent and ongoing crackdown, and calls to reinstate the death penalty for plotters have drawn appeals from Western allies for Ankara to uphold the rule of law.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

It wants US to send alleged mastermind back as it purges army, police and judiciary

ANKARA/ISTANBUL • Turkey yesterday vowed to root out allies of the US-based cleric it blames for a failed coup attempt last week, after a purge of the army, police and judiciary, and said it had sent Washington evidence of his wrongdoing.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the government accuse Mr Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating an abortive military takeover last Friday in which at least 232 people were killed, and have called for his extradition from the United States.

Mr Gulen has denied any involvement with the coup bid, suggesting that Mr Erdogan staged it as an excuse for a crackdown.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim accused the US, which said it will only consider extradition if clear evidence is provided, of double standards in its fight against terrorism.

Mr Yildirim said the Justice Ministry had sent a dossier to Washington on Mr Gulen, a former Erdogan ally whose religious movement blends conservative Islamic values with a pro-Western outlook and who has a network of supporters within Turkey. "We have more than enough evidence, more than you could ask for, on Gulen," Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said. "There is no need to prove the coup attempt. All evidence shows that the coup attempt was organised on his will and orders."

The broad crackdown and calls to reinstate the death penalty for plotters have drawn appeals from Western allies for Ankara to uphold the rule of law in the country, a Nato member on the border with Syria, whose cooperation in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is crucial to Washington.

LOTS OF EVIDENCE

We have more than enough evidence, more than you could ask for, on Gulen.

JUSTICE MINISTER BEKIR BOZDAG, on the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of orchestrating the abortive military takeover last Friday.

Ankara says followers of Mr Gulen, who lives in the Pocono mountains of rural Pennsylvania, have infiltrated Turkey's institutions and are running a "parallel state".

Western leaders have expressed solidarity with Ankara over the coup attempt but also alarm at the sweeping response, urging Turkey to adhere to democratic values.

In a defiant speech in Parliament, Mr Yildirim said the fact that civilians had been targeted in the attempted power grab by a faction in the military made it unprecedented in the history of Turkey, which last saw a violent coup more than 30 years ago.

"I'm sorry but this parallel terrorist organisation will no longer be an effective pawn for any country," Mr Yildirim said. "We will dig them up by their roots so that no clandestine terrorist organisation will have the nerve to betray our blessed people again."

About 1,400 people were wounded as soldiers commandeered tanks, attack helicopters and warplanes in their bid to seize power, strafing Parliament and the intelligence headquarters and trying to seize the main airport and bridges in Istanbul. In one dramatic moment, the government says rebel pilots had Mr Erdogan's private jet in their sights but did not fire.

The authorities have since suspended or detained close to 20,000 soldiers, police officers, judges and civil servants.

The army general staff has said it would punish "in the most severe way" any armed forces members responsible for what it called "this disgrace", adding that most had nothing to do with the coup.

Officials in Ankara say former air force chief Akin Ozturk, who has appeared in detention with his face and arms bruised and one ear bandaged, was a co-leader of the coup. Turkish media on Monday said he had denied involvement, saying he had tried to prevent the attempted putsch.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'Turkey vows to root out group behind failed coup'. Print Edition | Subscribe