Despite dark conspiracy theories in Turkey linking the United States government to the military coup attempt on July 15, Turkish leaders see no signs of American complicity with the plotters, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Tuesday.
But Mr. Kurtulmus also said it was “the expectation of the people of Turkey” that the American judicial process would lead to the extradition of the person they regard as the chief plotter, Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania who is a rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
“We know that it will take time,” Mr. Kurtulmus said in an interview with The New York Times editorial board. “It is not the business of the policy makers, it is the business of the judiciary system.”
He said the Turkish judicial officials had sent 80 boxes of files to their counterparts in the United States containing information to support their contention that Mr. Gulen was implicated in the coup attempt and should be extradited to face charges in Turkey.
“It is not a question of time, it is a question of intention,” Mr. Kurtulmus said. “We would like to see the clear intention of our American allies to support Turkish democracy.”
The tone of Mr. Kurtulmus’s remarks was muted compared to the anger expressed by Turkish leaders in the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt.
Some officials said publicly that they believed the United States was behind the plot, an accusation testily rejected by the Obama administration. Some pro-government newspapers in Turkey have continued to foment the idea of sinister American political conspiracies.
Asked about such allegations, Mr. Kurtulmus said: “Our official position is clear. We don’t see any evidence that U.S. officials supported the coup d’état.”
Mr. Kurtulmus acknowledged that some elements of the Turkish news media are continuing to speculate about supposed conspiracies with American connections, but that he did not believe any American officials were aware of the plot.
“Otherwise, they could have informed us before the coup d’état,” he said. The plotters, he said, were “so successful in hiding themselves, probably they had a hidden network among themselves.”
Mr. Kurtulmus spoke against a backdrop of American attempts to smooth relations with Turkey in the aftermath of the failed coup. The most important was a meeting on Sunday between President Obama and Mr. Erdogan during the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hangzhou, China. Mr. Obama pledged American help to bring to justice the perpetrators of what he described as “the terrible attempted coup.”
Mr. Gulen, who has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the coup plot, including in an op-ed article in The Times, has been accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating it via disciples in the armed forces, courts, news media and other segments of Turkish government and society.
The attempt collapsed within hours, but more than 260 people were killed during the fighting, and the effort to overthrow the elected government shook the political foundations of Turkey, a NATO member and longtime ally of the United States.
Mr. Erdogan has since conducted a widespread purge of suspected followers and associates of Mr. Gulen’s, which has alarmed human rights activists and other critics, who see the crackdown as evidence of what they call Mr. Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies.
(via NY Times)