FILE USA TURKEY FETHULLAH GULEN COUP.jpg
A handout file picture made available on 27 December 2013 by fgulen.com shows Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic opinion leader and founder of the Gulen movement. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan allegedly accused Gulen to be behind the attempted coup while making an address to his supporters upon his arrival at Istanbul Ataturk airport in the early hours of 16 July 2016.
Photograph: EPA/FGULEN.COM / HANDOUT

US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of orchestrating the July 15 attempted coup, says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in fact behind it.

So much evidence had come to light in recent days that it was a certainty, he said in an interview with dpa, Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper and the Spanish newspaper El Pais at his compound outside Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania on Thursday.

Erdogan had planned the coup a year in advance and had only had to wait for the right opportunity, said Gulen, who has lived in exile in the United States since 1999. 

Earlier this month the Turkish government formally requested the extradition of the 78-year-old cleric, who is public enemy number one in Turkey.

In the aftermath of the attempted coup, Erdogan is using it to solidify his power, according to Gulen.

He said that on the night of July 15, Erdogan had laughed as his plane landed in Istanbul after members of the military launched the coup.

“It is happening according to the plan. He declared that at the airport,” Gulen said through an interpreter. 

He called the coup a "gift from God,” saying Turkey "needed something like this" in order to go beyond the law and persecute more people. 

Turkey's chief of general staff and the head of intelligence "knew all what was happening," he added.

Gulen said he had asked for an international commission with experts from the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries to look into the attempted coup and its circumstances.

The Turkish government has ignored his recommendation, he said, adding that if such a commission found any evidence that he was directly involved in the attempted coup, “I can live with the results.”

He said he didn’t believe that Turkey would anytime soon fulfill the requirements that have been laid down for it to join the European Union, and he said the country should be threatened with international sanctions.

“Other than sanctions ... they're not going to come out of their own way. They are not going to give up what they already have done.”

Since the coup more than 50,000 people including civil servants, judges, members of the armed forces and police have been fired and 20,000 people have been arrested.

Government critics say the crackdown has spread beyond the perpetrators and is turning on rivals of Erdogan and his inner circle.

Related stories

Latest news

Alphabet's self-driving car company sues Uber over alleged theft

Alphabet's self-driving car company Waymo said Thursday it was suing Uber and its subsidiary Otto for allegedly stealing its technology and infringing its patents.

US, Mexico take "important steps" even as Trump voices indifference

Top US and Mexican diplomatic and security officials met on Thursday in Mexico City, as President Donald Trump in Washington expressed ambivalence about relations with the United States' southern neighbour.

US Supreme Court's Ginsberg emphasizes value of free press

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed optimism about the political future of the United States despite the polarized and combative political atmosphere that has marked the fledgling presidency of Donald Trump.

Top Trump aide Bannon points to promises kept, media fight

Top White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday US President Donald Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign on issues from immigration to job creation.

Le Pen promises independent foreign policy, autonomous defence

Marine Le Pen promised Thursday that if elected president of France she would ensure it had a truly independent foreign policy as well as an autonomous capacity for self-defence.

Slovenia for ending lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka

Croatia is infringing the memorandum of understanding signed with Slovenia in 2013 which they interpret differently, the Slovenian Embassy said on Thursday after a hearing at a Zagreb court in a suit which Croatia's PBZ bank filed against Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka (LB) and Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB) over transferred foreign currency savings.

Marin Pucar appointed as new CEO in Podravka food concern

Marin Pucar is the new Management Board chairman of the Podravka food concern and will take the helm of the company after Zvonimir Mrsic's term expires at midnight on Thursday.

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for 'The Truth' with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.