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Obama Rejects Claims U.S. Had Advance Knowledge of Turkey Coup

July 23,2016 10:14

President Barack Obama rejected claims that the U.S. had prior knowledge of last week's attempted coup in Turkey and urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to tamp down any rumors of American involvement. Any suggestions of early U.S. ...

WASHINGTON — Turkey's ambassador said Friday that his country will accept a U.S. offer to work with the State and Justice departments on an extradition request for a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania who Ankara accuses of orchestrating last week's failed coup.“Of course that’s going to happen,” said Serdar Kilic, Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, in his first news conference since the uprising was quashed by the government on Saturday.“The failed coup is the latest criminal act revealing the danger posed by” cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers, Kilic said.Gulen, a religious leader who’s lived at a 25-acre compound in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania since 1999, denies any involvement in the plot and condemned any attempt to change Turkey’s government by non-democratic means.Secretary of State John Kerry said Turkey must provide evidence of Gulen’s involvement for a U.S. judge to consider any extradition request. Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said the extradition is “a very legal technical process.”The State Department said Thursday it offered to let Turkey work with a joint team from the State and Justice departments to help navigate through the extradition request.“We’ll be helping them with that,” Trudeau said.Kilic said Turkey's investigation of the coup and Gulen's involvement is still underway.“All the evidence gathered so far points at this coup attempt was directed by followers of the Gulen terrorist organization,” Kilic said.“Some under interrogation have already confessed,” he said. “For the time being it’s too early to come to conclusions.”Friday's news conference began with a video recounting the coup and its aftermath, including images of the roundup of members of Turkey’s military and judiciary accused of plotting and carrying out the attempt.The government has detained more than 10,000 “coup plotters” and dismissed 2,745 judges and prosecutors, plus 8,777 Interior Ministry workers, including police officers, the ambassador said. Another 40,000 educators were suspended or will be, according to the government-run Anadolu Agency.Amnesty International said the crackdown and state of emergency imposed by Turkey far surpass responses made by other countries after an attempted coup. The human rights group said that raises concerns whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to strengthen his hold on power, eliminate political opponents and curb the country's democratic tradition.Kilic said that’s not the case. “All political parties are supporting the government,” he said.Gulen and his followers profess a moderate form of Islam and tolerance toward other religions. Gulen has a network of schools, both in Turkey and in other countries, including the United States, whose graduates are encouraged to participate in government, political donations and charity organizations. In Turkey, people who received a Gulen education have found work in the military, judiciary, police and other ministries.The Alliance for Shared Values, which represents Gulen in the United States, said in a statement that the Hizmet movement he founded has focused since the early 1970s on education in private secular schools as a means to improve society."It is inaccurate to suggest that Hizmet sympathizers are dominating any institution," the statement said. "To the contrary, Erdogan and his allies have a stronghold; they have systematically taken over the Turkish judiciary, the military, law enforcement and the media."Mr. Erdogan "has made it his practice to target and go after dissent of any kind," the group said, referring to Eddogan's actions against Turkish religious minorities, Kurds, journalists, liberals, and leftists.Hizmet supporters have avoided politics, and Gulen "has repeatedly and strongly condemned the recent coup attempt and denied any involvement," it said. "The facts will undoubtedly bear that out."To support his claims, Kilic read from a leaked 2005 State Department cable obtained by Wikileaks that said. “Deep and widespread doubts remain, however, about (the Gulen) movement's ultimate intentions.”The State Department does not comment on leaked cables, which it says amount to unverified opinions.Kilic said the level of infiltration by Gulen’s movement makes its members a threat.Replay1 of 452 of 453 of 454 of 455 of 456 of 457 of 458 of 459 of 4510 of 4511 of 4512 of 4513 of 4514 of 4515 of 4516 of 4517 of 4518 of 4519 of 4520 of 4521 of 4522 of 4523 of 4524 of 4525 of 4526 of 4527 of 4528 of 4529 of 4530 of 4531 of 4532 of 4533 of 4534 of 4535 of 4536 of 4537 of 4538 of 4539 of 4540 of 4541 of 4542 of 4543 of 4544 of 4545 of 45AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow Captions“The real objective of this group is to seize all mechanisms of constitutional institutions, security units, civil service and judicial authority of the Turkish state as well as to become a great and influential political and economic power at the international level,” Kilic said.Teachers were dismissed because they were part of “Gulenists’ attempts to infiltrate the government,” Kilic said. The coup, “was an attempt to take control of Turkey’s political system.”Gulen’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the allegations.Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/2a6p85C

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