The coup was staged in Turkey

Gülen: Erdogan staged the putsch himself

The Turkish president planned the coup years in advance, says arch-rival Erdogans. Now he is using the coup to consolidate power.

The Turkish clergyman Fethullah Gülen has blamed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan directly for the attempted coup on July 15 in Turkey. "So much evidence has come to light in the past few days that this is becoming a certainty," said Gülen in an interview with dpa, the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit" and the Spanish daily newspaper "El Pais" in his exile in the USA.

Erdogan planned the coup years in advance. "He was just waiting for the right opportunity," said Gülen, who has lived in the US state of Pennsylvania since 1999. For its part, the Turkish government blames Gülen and his Hizmet movement, which is critical of the government, responsible for the attempted coup and demands the extradition of the 78-year-old. In Turkey, he is now the No. 1 public enemy.

"In the aftermath of the coup attempt, he used it to consolidate his power," said Gülen of Erdogan. "Whatever he has planned - the coup gives him the opportunity to do it." Many officials who are unwelcome to the government, whether in ministries, the military, the courts or the police, have been released and many have been imprisoned.

"Lost almost everything"

Gulen called for an international commission with experts from the USA, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries to investigate the attempted coup and its circumstances. This proposal was not even considered by the Turkish government, said Gülen. "If it turns out that I was involved in the coup attempt - I can live with the results," he said.

He does not assume that Turkey will meet requirements in the near future that are necessary for accession negotiations to the EU. The state must be countered with international law and words of power from NATO and the USA, he demanded. "Otherwise it won't stop," emphasized Gülen. "They will not give up lightly what they have already achieved." Turkey has a tradition of democracy. "But in the meantime we've lost almost everything," said Gülen.

Gülen ready to return from the USA

In addition, in an interview with ZDF "heute-journal" on Friday, Gülen declared that he was ready to return to Turkey if the USA agreed to the request for extradition from Ankara. Then he will spend his remaining days in Turkey "tormented" by the Turkish government.

"An international organization should investigate the matter," said Gülen. However, the Turkish leadership has not yet "managed to show anything tangible". Rather, the accusation that he was responsible for the failed coup is a means of weakening his movement. "You only needed a serious excuse," said Gülen.

In the interview, Gülen also accused Erdogan of "paranoia". "I think he's shaking and shaking with fear." The head of state was "poisoned by power" and "harmful to Turkey".

Ankara declared the Gülen movement a terrorist organization

Until the break in 2013, Gülen himself was a close ally of Erdogan. He originally made a name for himself as an influential Islamic preacher. Until the 1980s he worked as an imam in various Turkish cities. His Hizmet ("service") movement placed one focus on improving educational opportunities. The Gülen movement gained economic power with its own schools, educational institutions, and business and media companies.

Since the break with the then Prime Minister Erdogan, he has been engaged in a violent power struggle with supporters of the Gülen movement, who accuse him of infiltrating the police and the judiciary. After a corruption scandal in close proximity to Erdogan's ruling party, the AKP, which culminated in the arrest of several ministerial sons at the end of 2013, numerous high-ranking police officers involved in the investigation were removed from office.

The Gülen movement has now been declared a terrorist organization, and many of its leaders are on a list of the most wanted terrorists in Turkey. Turkey demands Gulen's extradition. The preacher, who is in poor health, has lived in the US state of Pennsylvania since 1999. After being charged with activities that were dangerous to the state, he had emigrated at the end of the 1990s - long before the falling out with Erdogan.

(APA / dpa)