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Gulen movement threat to world: Erdogan

ISNA - Iranian Students' News Agency

Sat / 6 August 2016 / 12:54

TEHRAN (ISNA)- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the movement affiliated to the US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen not only poses "a threat" to Turkey, but also to all countries where it is present.

Erdogan made the comments in a joint press conference with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev in the Turkish capital Ankara on Friday.

"On the night of July 15, our country was subjected to one of the most despicable, most reckless and bloodiest betrayals in our political history," Erdogan further said, adding that the botched coup revealed the Guln movement's "dark side" and "sneaky plans", state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Erdogan also vowed to "resolutely maintain" Turkey's "struggle both at home and abroad."

A coup began in Turkey late on July 15, when a faction of the Turkish military declared that it was in control of the country and that the government was no more in charge. The putsch, however, was gradually suppressed and over 60,000 people in the military, judiciary, civil service and education have so far been sacked, dismissed or detained in the country over allegations of involvement in the coup attempt and their links to Gulen.

Erdogan said 237 people were killed and more than 2,100 others sustained injuries during the coup attempt.

Gulen, an outspoken opponent of Erdogan living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, has firmly denied any role in the coup attempt, warning the Turks instead that the move could have been orchestrated by the government to purge its opponents.

Also on Friday, Gulen's lawyers said at a news conference in Washington that they feared an attack on his life, adding that they expected him to remain at his Pennsylvania compound.

On Thursday, a formal arrest warrant was issued by an Istanbul-based court, with prosecutors accusing Gulen of having orchestrated the failed coup.

Earlier on Thursday, Erdogan said the government would continue to go after businesses linked to Gulen and his Hizmat movement, which is banned in Turkey.

Ankara has already urged the US to extradite Gulen, but it has yet to make a formal extradition request to Washington.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that his American counterpart John Kerry would pay a visit to the Anatolian country on August 24, after Ankara said it was discontent at the lack of sufficient backing from the West following the failed putsch.

Kerry's visit will also be regarded as the first formal visit by a top Western official to the country in the wake of the 15 July attempted coup.

Meanwhile, Turkey's Defense Minister Fikri Isik said that Ankara's plans to restructure its military were aimed at eradicating the likelihood of another putsch attempt, and would be in line with the structure and spirit of the NATO military alliance.

"The restructuring aims to abolish the mechanism that has staged six small and large coups in the last 60 years. The steps we are carrying out... perfectly suit NATO's structure and spirit," Isik said in an interview with Reuters on Friday.

"The steps have three basic principles. The first is compliance with democracy. Second, they are the product of global experience. Lastly, the steps ensure nobody will attempt a coup in Turkey again," he further said, adding that 288 soldiers, including nine generals, were still at large after the botched coup.

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