Turkey’s government, fresh from defeating a coup attempt led by elements of the military, is accusing the United States of harboring the alleged mastermind of the entire plot: reclusive cleric Fetullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.
Gulen has lived in exile in the Pocono Mountains since 1999 and retains significant influence in Turkey and around the world. He has denied any role in the failed coup, following accusations by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that his followers are to blame.
“Turkey will not be run from a house in Pennsylvania,” Erdogan said Saturday, according to TRT World. “Turkey is not a country that can be bought or sold cheaply.”
The Islamic scholar’s apparent response, issued through his Alliance for Shared Values NGO, condemned the attempted coup and called the allegations “especially insulting.”
“As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations,” Gulen said.
The attempted military coup in Turkey Friday night killed nearly 100 people and injured more than 1,000, according to the latest estimates by authorities. Soldiers took to the streets in Ankara and Istanbul as the military claimed it had taken full control of the country. But Erdogan, landing in Istanbul from a vacation at the Mediterranean resort town of Marmaris, appears to have wrestled back the reins of power.
Gulen also commented more generally on the coup: “Governments should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force. I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly.”
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Saturday said that Turkey would consider itself at war with any country that supports Gulen, according to Reuters.
Erdogan has long linked Gulen to various plots against his rule, and recently shut down a newspaper connected with his movement.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has offered U.S. help in investigating the coup, according to Agence France-Presse, but has asked Erdogan to provide evidence of Gulen’s involvement.