28th Oct 2016

West backs terrorists and plotters, says Erdogan

  • Turkey wants the US to hand over Fethullah Gulen (Photo: EUobserver)

Turkey has accused the West of supporting terrorism and backing the failed coup to overthrow the government.

In a fiery speech delivered at his 1,150 room palace in Ankara on Tuesday (2 August), president Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded the United States hand over his bitter foe Fethullah Gulen.

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Gulen, a 75-year old cleric who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1991, has been accused of masterminding the 15 July coup. He denies any involvement.

"This coup attempt has actors inside Turkey, but its script was written outside. Unfortunately the West is supporting terrorism and stands by coup plotters," said Erdogan.

The US, for its part, offered a mild rebuke to Erdogan's comments.

US state department spokesman John Kirby said Erdogan “is certainly free to express his views and his frustrations as he sees fit."

Kirby said "what matters is the partnership with Turkey is going forward."

Turkish lawmakers have since been dispatched to the United States in a broader diplomatic effort to convince authorities that Gulen is behind the attack.

Another group of Turkish lawmakers from the foreign affairs committee has also been sent to Brussels.

Erdogan also took a swipe at human rights group Amnesty International, which alleged that some people detained in the government-led purge had been tortured.

Erdogan said Turkey had “zero tolerance toward torture” and said the London-based rights group should visit those wounded in the coup.

“If you have any self respect, you’ll come to Turkey ... you’ll visit our [wounded] in hospital, and you’ll see who did what to whom,” he said.

Some 200 people died in the coup with another 2,000 injured.

But Amnesty International’s secretary general Salil Shetty stood by the torture reports.

In a statement issued after Ergodan's speech, he said the government must release people who have committed no crime.

“The serious human rights violations documented by an Amnesty International team on the ground in Turkey are alarming," he said.

Some 70,000 people have been forced to resign, including football referees, over their perceived affiliation in the plot to overthrow the government. Another 18,000 have been arrested, reports the Associated Press.

Erdogan hits out at Italy

Erdogan's combative accusations continued later on Tuesday in an interview with Italian TV channel RAI.

He criticised foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who had said Turkey must respect democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

"Mrs Mogherini should have first come to Turkey. Now I ask: What would be the reaction if the Italian parliament was bombed?"

Erdogan also traded barbs with Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi over allegations of money laundering.

Erdogan's 35-year-old son Bilal Erdogan risks arrest if he enters Italy, where he had been a student.

Italian prosecutors launched an investigation earlier this year against Bilal in a corruption scandal that links back to his father's AKP party and other senior Turkish government officials.

"Italy should be attending to the mafia, not my son," said Ergodan.

But Renzi replied on Twitter, saying that Italy's legal system was independent and that "judges answer to the Italian constitution and not the Turkish president".

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