US-based cleric Gulen denies Turkey coup charges

Istanbul, Turkey Updated: Jul 16, 2016, 01:51 PM(IST)

Fethullah Gulen, denied Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's accusations by saying it was insulting for somebody who had suffered under military coup for five decades to even attempt one. Photograph:( Reuters )

US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen today denied accusations he played a role in the attempted coup in Turkey and said he condemned "in the strongest terms" the attempt to topple the government.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the government have said that Gulen's followers in the military were responsible for the attempted take-over on Friday night and today morning.

The government accuses Gulen of trying to create a "parallel structure" in the police, judiciary, media and armed forces, aimed at taking over the state, a charge the cleric denies.

"I condemn, in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey," Gulen said in a statement.

"As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations."

The cleric has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for years.

US invites Turkey 

Secretary of state John Kerry said today that the United States will assist Turkey in the investigation of a failed coup and invited Ankara to share any evidence it has against Fethullah Gulen.

Speaking in Luxembourg, Kerry said Washington had not yet received a formal extradition bid for the expatriate cleric, but added: "We fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr Gulen."

Kerry who spoke late Friday to his Turkish opposite number Mevlut Cavusoglu by telephone, said: "We haven't received any request with respect to Mr Gulen.

"And obviously we invited 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.

And, standing alongside Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn outside the country's foreign ministry, he added: "I'm confident that there will be some discussion about that."

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