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Turkish defense minister calls BND chief ‘blind or deaf’ for Gülen remarks

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Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık reacted to a recent statement by German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) chief Bruno Kahl, who said Turkey had failed to convince Germany that US-based Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen was behind a July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, claiming that Kahl is either blind or deaf.

“If the person who is at the top of Germany’s intelligence service says ‘we cannot see who is behind the coup attempt,’ he is either blind or deaf or feels the need to hide the suspects of it [coup attempt],” Işık said.

Speaking during an interview with Kanal 7 TV on Sunday, Işık also said the BND statement raised questions of whether Germany was behind the thwarted coup attempt.

A statement like this from Germany’s intelligence chief raises doubts about Germany, and makes us ask if Germany was behind the coup. Did you collaborate with them? Which part did you participate in?” he said.

On Saturday, the head of the BND said Turkey could not convince them that Muslim scholar Gülen was behind a failed coup attempt despite accusations against the Gülen movement.

In an interview with CNNTürk on Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesman İbrahim Kalın claimed that Germany supports the Gülen movement against Turkey.

In remarks that were published in Der Spiegel yesterday, in addition to saying Gülen was not behind the coup, Kahl also ruled out arguments that the government staged July 15. “The coup was not initiated by the state. There was an ongoing purge even before July 15. As a result, some within the military thought that they should intervene before the purge reaches them. However, it was too late, and they were purged during this process, too.”

According to Kahl, the failed coup attempt served as a pretext to accelerate the purge. BND head said that what is being witnessed in the post-coup era was going to happen anyway, though maybe not with the same depth and same radical steps, in reference to an unprecedented crackdown of critics in Turkey.

The Turkish government accelerated the purge aiming to cleanse sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanized its popular figures and put unprecedented numbers of people in custody accusing them of coup involvement.

In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.

In addition to tens of thousands of citizens from all walks of life, a total of 7,316 academics were dismissed, and 4,272 judges and prosecutors were purged over alleged coup involvement or terrorist links.

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