Was the US-based cleric involved in Turkey coup?

Was the US-based cleric involved in Turkey coup?

WASHINGTON: (APP) The US-based cleric that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says is behind an attempted military coup in Turkey has denied any involvement, suggesting that the coup could have been staged by the president himself.

Erdogan has accused Gulen, a reclusive Muslim cleric living in self-imposed exile in a mountain town in Pennsylvania, of being behind Friday's bloody putsch attempt. He wants Washington to extradite Gulen to Turkey.

The 75-year-old Gulen was once a close Erdogan ally but the two fell out in recent years as the Turkish president became suspicious of Gulen's movement, Hizmet, and its powerful presence in Turkish society, including in the media, police and judiciary.

Gulen condemned the military uprising "in the strongest terms" shortly after the coup attempt began late Friday.

And in a rare meeting Saturday with a small group of reporters at his compound in the town of Saylorsburg, in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, Gulen rejected charges of being the coup mastermind.

"I don't know who my followers are," Gulen said when asked if any of his backers were involved in the coup attempt, according to The New York Times.

"Since I do not know these individuals, I cannot speak of their potential involvement. It could be something from the opposition or nationalists. I have been away from Turkey for 30 years and have not been following this."

Gulen moved to the United States in 1999, before he was charged with treason in Turkey. He has since led a secluded life in Pennsylvania and rarely makes public appearances.