WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) — Secretary of State John Kerry slammed implications made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the United Sates was involved in a failed coup that left 265 people dead and 1,440 wounded.
Tensions between the two countries are high as a result of Erdogan’s allegations, ABC News reported.
Turkey is a key U.S. ally and a member of NATO.
“He made clear that the United States would be willing to provide assistance to Turkish authorities conducting this investigation, but that public insinuations or claims about any role by the United States in the failed coup attempt are utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations,” Kerry spokesman John Kirby said late Saturday.
Erdogan believes a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania in self-exile is behind the attempted coup and the United States is harboring him. He wants cleric Fethullah Gulen extradited back to Turkey.
Meanwhile, Erdogan is rounding up any and all suspects in the coup attempt. He is making a broad sweep across the country to arrest renegade military officers and others he believes were involved in the plot, the Washington Post reported.
The country’s justice minister confirmed Sunday that up to 6,000 have been detained, including some 50 more senior army officers were detained.
Arrest warrants have been issued for at least 2,745 judges and prosecutors across Turkey, media there reported. The state-run news outlet Anadolu also reported that Maj. Gen. Ozhan Ozbakir, commander of a large garrison in southwestrn Turkey, is among those detained.
Erdogan is also insisting Gulen be sent back to Turkey. He has said he is convinced Gulen is responsible for the attempted overthrow of his government.
“I say to America: Either execute or give the man who lives in a 400,000 square meter area in Pennsylvania,” Ergodan said before a crowd in Turkey. “I call again after the attempted coup. Deliver him to Turkey.”
Erdogan also brought in to question the relationship between the United States and Turkey. “If we are strategic partners, then listen to your partner and do what we say. We gave you whatever terrorist you demanded. Now, give us the person that is on our terror list”
Speaking to reporters in Luxembourg, Kerry said, “obviously we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny. And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments about it appropriately,”