By Burcu Arik
ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the United States on Saturday to extradite accused terrorist leader and coup plotter Fetullah Gulen.
Addressing a crowd in Istanbul less than 24 hours after his call for the public to take the streets helped end a coup, Erdogan said Turkey had asked the U.S. many times to extradite Pennsylvania-based preacher Gulen, an expatriate Turk. “I had told you [the U.S.] to deport or give this person back to Turkey.”
“I had told you that this person was in a preparation for a coup against Turkey, but I could not make you listen to me,” Erdogan said.
Reiterating his demand, Erdogan said, “I repeat my call on the U.S. and president [Barack Obama], give this person back to Turkey.”
Erdogan also emphasized that Friday’s failed coup had not come from within the higher echelons of the army but instead “a small minority within the military.”
“They [Gulen supporters] were like a tumor within the military, and now this tumor is being removed,” he added.
Friday night saw military elements make a “vile” attempt to overthrow Turkey’s elected government, according to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Around 160 people were martyred in the ensuing violence.
Some 2,839 military personnel involved in the coup attempt have been arrested, and 20 pro-coup soldiers, including some senior officers, were killed in the attempt to overthrow the government.
Turkey accuses Fetullah Gulen of being behind the coup and called for him to return to Turkey to face trial.