Turkish prime minister hosts security meeting in Ankara

Cheryl Sanders
August 7, 2016

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in a conference of the heads of chambers of commerce in Ankara, Turkey, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gulen of orchestrating the failed putsch and harnessing an extensive network of schools, charities and businesses in Turkey and overseas to infiltrate state institutions.

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev vowed on Friday to send anyone working or studying at schools linked to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey should they be found to have "terror links".

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to visit Turkey in late August, officials have said, with Gulen's case likely to be high on the agenda.

Right-wing and pro-government media outlets have repeatedly accused the United States of being somehow involved in the putsch, which saw rebel soldiers turn on the state, kill civilians and bomb the country's legislature in an unsuccessful bid to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A severe crackdown followed the attempted coup with people in the Turkish military, academia and judiciary rounded up.

The coup and its aftermath have strained Turkey's relations with the United States, which has said it will not extradite Gulen unless Turkey provides evidence of his wrongdoing, and Europe, some of whose politicians have raised concern that Erdogan is using events to further tighten his grip on power. He also spoke of the possibility of a separate visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Turkey on Thursday issued a warrant for Gulen's arrest for allegedly ordering the failed coup, a move seen as a prelude to a formal extradition request.

"I just want to say again, as I've said before and as we've said from Washington, the United States government did not plan, direct, support or have any advance knowledge of any of the illegal activities that occurred the night of 15 July and into 16 July". "I wonder how will the USA justify itself if Gulen escaped the US territories", added Erdogan.

As part of its anti-coup campaign, Ankara has been encouraging nightly anti-coup rallies throughout the country, with officials preparing for the grand finale to be held in Istanbul on Sunday. "And for these reasons, we believe that Mr Gulen should not and will not be extradited", Weingarten said.

Ankara has come under harsh criticism from the West for the ongoing purge in which over 60,000 people within military, judiciary, civil service and education have been dismissed, detained or are now under investigation for suspected links to the Gulen movement. Of these, 56,000 have been identified and are said to be in Turkey.

Even before the coup, Erdogan had lobbied allies to shut Gulen-linked schools, a main source of income for the movement.

Erdogan announced after talks with Nazarbayev that the two agreed that education authorities from both countries should carry out a joint review of 33 schools in the Central Asian nation that Turkey suspects are linked to Gulen. The coup plotters, who called themselves the "Council of Peace" and said that they were there to restore democratic practices to the country, turned their weapons on the protesting citizens.

Tourism revenue, a mainstay of the Turkish economy, has been decimated by the drop in Russian visitors, whose numbers fell 87 percent in the first six months of the year.

Additionally, while USA courts won't assess concerns about the fair treatment of suspects in a country requesting extradition, the issue could still arise because extradition is "ultimately a political decision" by the United States, he said.

Now local branches of the AK Party have been told to begin a purge of suspected Gulenists in their ranks.

Other reports by iNewsToday