ISTANBUL: The Turkish government is expected to continue its crack down on suspected putschists on Tuesday, while the US-based Muslim cleric accused by Ankara of orchestrating the coup attempt says he doesn’t fear extradition.
Turkey has so far detained over 7,500 people and sacked almost 9,000 officials in its relentless purge of suspected plotters with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing to wipe out the “virus”.
Erdogan has blamed his arch-foe Fethullah Gulen, a moderate Turkish preacher living in the US, for being behind the attempted power grab that left more than 300 people dead, and has demanded that Washington extradite him.
But the 75-year-old categorically denies any involvement in the plot and has suggested it could have been staged by Erdogan himself.
“I have no concerns personally,” Gulen said in an interview with several media outlets including Agence France-Presse in the Pennsylvania town of Saylorsburg he has called home since 1999 under self-imposed exile.
The United States “is a country of law,” he said. “I don’t believe this government will pay attention to anything that is not legally sound.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Ankara would need to provide “evidence, not allegations” against Gulen.
The preacher’s followers have a powerful presence in Turkish society, including the media, police and judiciary, and Erdogan has long accused him of running a “parallel state” in Turkey.
In remarks that have sparked concern among Western allies, Erdogan has said Turkey could bring back the death penalty for the coup plotters.
“There is a clear crime of treason,” Erdogan told CNN in his first media interview since the chaotic events of Friday night.
“The leaders will have to come together and discuss it. If they accept to discuss it, as the president, I will approve any decision to come out of the parliament.”
Spate of arrests
On Monday former air force chief General Akin Ozturk appeared in court, looking haggard and with an ear bandaged, and denied leading the failed coup.
“I am not the person who planned or led the coup. Who planned it and directed it I do not know,” state-run news agency Anadolu quoted him as saying in his statement to prosecutors.
General Mehmet Disli, who conducted the operation to capture chief-of-staff Hulusi Akar during the coup, has also been detained.