ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 11 (UPI) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States must make a choice after failing to act on repeated requests to extradite U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen: support Turkey or the movement led by the dissident.
Erdogan, speaking before a crowd of thousands at a pro-democracy rally, again called for U.S. officials to hand over Gulen, referring to him as the head of the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization.”
“Sooner or later the U.S. will make a choice. Either Turkey or FETO,” Erdogan said. “Either the coup-plotting terrorist FETO or the democratic country Turkey. It has to make this choice.”
Erdogan and other Turkish officials say they believe Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan who became an adversary three years ago, is behind the July 15 attempted coup in Turkey, which left nearly 300 people dead. Gulen has been living in Pennsylvania since 1999.
The United States has refused extradition requests, saying there is no clear evidence of Gulen’s involvement in the coup attempt. Gulen himself has repeatedly denied any involvement.
Erdogan told spectators this week to remain vigilant, saying, “betrayal can come from anywhere and anyone.” He said there is no difference between FETO and other terrorism-related groups.
“Those who follow the Pennsylvania-based charlatan who sold his soul to the devil, or Daesh, which shed Muslim blood, or the PKK that also has shed blood for 30 years to divide the country and the nation, will all lose in the end.”