Turkey moving towards dictatorship – Gulen
The reclusive cleric accused by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of orchestrating a failed coup has demanded that the U.S. resist demands for his extradition from Pennsylvania, according to The Guardian.
"Turkey's president is blackmailing the United States," preacher Fethullah Gulen wrote in a New York Times opinion piece on Tuesday, The Guardian wrote.
"His goal: to ensure my extradition, despite a lack of credible evidence and virtually no prospect for a fair trial. The temptation to give Mr. Erdogan whatever he wants is understandable. But the United States must resist it."
Gulen has lived in Pennsylvania in voluntary exile since 1999. He is spiritual leader of the Hizmet movement, which promotes moderate Islam but which Erdogan has called a terrorist group.
Bellingcat: Turkish coup through eyes of plottersThe Turkish president accused Gulen of orchestrating the 15 July aborted coup, in which Ankara said more than 290 people were killed.
A subsequent crackdown has seen more than 13,000 people detained and tens of thousands more sacked from their jobs in the civil service, schools and universities.
Gulen, who lives on the edge of the scenic Poconos area, denies having anything to do with the failed coup and accused Erdogan's government of shifting towards "a dictatorship" that was "polarizing the population" and "fueling the fanatics."
"The United States must not accommodate an autocrat who is turning a failed putsch into a slow-motion coup of his own against constitutional government," Gulen wrote.
The U.S. government has asked for firm evidence in reply to Ankara's request to extradite Gulen.
Last week, state-run media reported that Turkey had cut his modest state pension and canceled his social security rights.