Turkish President Erdogan tells US to choose between Gulen and democracy

Erdogan on Wednesday addressed thousands of people gathered outside the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Ankara, Turkey Aug 11, 2016, 03.11 AM (IST)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on the United States on Wednesday, to extradite US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating the coup attempt against his rule - a claim the 75-year-old cleric denies.

Addressing thousands of people gathered outside the presidential palace in Ankara, Erdogan said that Washington needed to make a choice.

"Sooner or later, the United States will make a choice. Either Turkey or FETO. They will either choose the putschist terrorist FETO or Turkey, the democratic country. They need to make a choice. We sent 85 boxes of files," he said, using an abbreviation standing for the "Gulenist Terror Group" which is how Ankara refers to Gulen's movement.

The speech was billed as the culmination of nightly rallies in cities across Turkey to show solidarity since the attempted coup.

Referring to bomb attacks and cross-border fire that killed 13 in southeast Turkey on Wednesday, Erdogan said that the country was facing multiple threats.
"We have again martyrs in Sirnak province. There were explosions in Mardin and Diyarbakir. When FETO leaves, PKK takes over the duty of treachery. When PKK leaves, Daesh (Arabic acronym for the Islamic State) takes over," he said.
Turkey is dealing with the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, which killed more than 240 people and wounded 2,200.

More than 60,000 people, including many in the military and police, have been detained, suspended or placed under investigation since the coup attempt, in which rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and warplanes to try to take power.

The PKK, designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the United States, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 and more than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have died in the violence.