Turkey’s foreign minster said on Monday that the Turkish-U.S. relations could be affected if Washington does not extradite Fethullah Gulen, a cleric Ankara accuses of being the mastermind of a recent coup attempt.
Turkey will accelerate efforts to have Gulen returned, Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with private broadcaster Haberturk TV.
The Turkish government has repeatedly said the July 15 plot, which left at least 246 people dead and more than 2,100 others injured, was organized by followers of Gulen.
However, Gulen, who has been living in a self-imposed exile in the U.S. for years, “categorically” denied any involvement in the plot, calling the accusation “insulting.”
A number of ambassadors in connection with the putsch attempt would be removed, Cavusoglu added.
Turkish authorities have suspended, detained or placed under investigation more than 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, teachers, civil servants and others since the July 15 coup attempt.
On Sunday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that the U.S. knew the coup attempt in Turkey was made by the Pennsylvania-based Gulen.
“I am sure U.S. President [Barack] Obama, the U.S. intelligence and secretary of state know this coup [attempt] was made by Fetullah Gulen,” Bozdag told Turkish television channel Kanal 7. “I am very sure they don’t have any hesitation about this.”
He also warned that the relations between the two countries would be soured if Gulen maintained his life in the U.S. after the coup attempt, according to Anadolu Agency.
“The U.S. government does not have any justification in defending and keeping Fetullah Gulen in the U.S.,” Bozdag added.
Bozdag said he would be traveling to the U.S. with Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala to discuss the extradition issue.
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