*UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM A LATER SPEECH
ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed Sunday to continue to remove the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO)-linked elements responsible for Friday’s failed coup from all state bodies.
Speaking at a funeral for people killed in the failed coup, Erdogan said, “We will continue to cleanse the state institutions of all these viruses,” adding that the attempted coup by FETO, led by Fetullah Gulen, was put down by the national will.
“This virus, like a cancer, has spread throughout the state apparatus. We have informed all relevant authorities,” Erdogan said, stressing that those members of the organization in the military are being arrested in all ranks.
“This country has legislative, executive, and judicial [bodies]. They [the members of FETO] even tried to trigger a confrontation between these bodies, but they failed.
“Since yesterday, the judiciary has been cleansed of these elements, they were put in custody, dismissed and imprisoned. This was necessary, but that is not enough,” Erdogan said.
On calls by some to restore the death penalty, Erdogan said: “The demands of the people cannot be overlooked in democracies. It is your right. This right shall be examined within the constitutional framework by the concerned authorities.”
Erdogan added, “We do not seek revenge. We must think about every step this way.”
Erdogan later addressed a crowd gathered outside his Istanbul residence in the Kisikli neighborhood.
He spoke of his phone conversation with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Saturday night in connection with eight Turkish army officers who fled to Greece in a helicopter after the failed coup.
“He said they would give us the helicopter right away, and that helicopter came [to Turkey] today. As for those 8 people, he said they would be delivered within 10 to 15 days. They have no place to hide. We will also see who is sincere or not,” Erdogan said.
Late Saturday, a diplomatic source said the Black Hawk helicopter used in the escape had been returned to Turkey.
It was received by the Turkish military and left Alexandroupoli, Greece at 11.30 p.m. local time (2030GMT) accompanied by two other Turkish helicopters, the source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Erdogan also said they would be seeking the extradition of “parallel state” members living in European countries, after having already sought the extradition of the alleged coup leader, U.S.-based cleric Fetullah Gulen.
“In a similar way, we will also be seeking the extradition of those in Western countries. Let’s see what they do. Will they give them up or not? This is a test. And we will see who passes it,” he said.
Around 3,000 military personnel have been arrested, and last night a senior prosecutor ordered the arrest of nearly 2,750 judges accused of links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization alleged to be behind the coup, according to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag.
The government has said the attempted coup was organized by followers of U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of a long-running campaign to overthrow the government through supporters within the Turkish state, particularly the military, police, and judiciary, forming the so-called “parallel state”.