US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, said during an interview that although he had previously thought it was only a possibility, he now thinks it’s certain that Erdoğan was behind the coup attempt.
Speaking with German weekly Die Zeit, Gülen said during the interview that the military coup attempt betrayed the principles of the Turkish government and his global movement, called the Gülen movement, popularly known as Hizmet.
Pointing to Erdoğan’s comments that the July 15 putsch was a “gift from God” because it would allow the army to be cleansed, Gülen said: “Until now I only thought that was a possibility. Now I think it’s certain.”
He also said that a Turkish officer had recently told Turkish media that the chief of general staff and the intelligence chief had met at army headquarters on the night of the coup attempt, adding, “They already knew everything that would happen later.”
While the events on the night of the coup attempt have yet to be fully uncovered, Erdoğan has repeatedly complained about an intelligence failure, saying he only learned about the putsch from his brother-in-law on the night of July 15.
Gülen underlined that government decrees issued during the state of emergency which was declared five days after the coup attempt gave Erdoğan the opportunity to dismiss thousands of opponents in state institutions, including ministries, the military, the police and the judiciary.
He also said it is obvious that the detention of more than 44.000 and the arrest of over 24.000 people, including judges, lawyers, police officers, civil servants, businesspeople, journalists, civilians and the wives of his sympathizers, by Turkish authorities must have been planned in advance.
Distancing himself from Erdoğan, Gülen told Die Zeit, “Neither my friends nor I were close to Erdoğan ourselves, even if that is being claimed.”
When Erdoğan co-founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2001 and promised democracy and stronger human rights as well as a limit to the military’s political power, Gülen and the movement had backed him, Gülen said. “But Erdoğan broke his promises after the 2011 election,” he added.