Head of the US Congress House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, has said he has not seen any evidence showing the US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s involvement in a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.
The Turkish government accuses Gülen of masterminding the failed coup and has been pressing the US administration to extradite Gülen. Gülen strongly denies having any role in the attempted putsch.
When asked about some reports in the Turkish media during an interview on Chris Wallace’s ”Fox News Sunday” which was aired on FOX TV on Sunday morning, claiming that the US administration would extradite Gülen, Nunes said, “I haven’t seen the evidence for that, that Gülen was involved in anything like that [the failed coup attempt].”
The failed military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.
Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
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.
A total of 7,316 academics were dismissed, and 4,070 judges and prosecutors were purged over alleged coup involvement or terrorist links.
The head of the German Intelligence Agency (BND), Bruno Kahl, also said in an interview published on Saturday that he had not seen convincing evidence that Gülen was behind the failed coup.
Nunes also shared his thoughts about the administration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and said “The Erdoğan government is becoming very authoritarian,” adding that “our relationship with Turkey is strained” and was “going to become even more complicated as we begin to try to get ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] out of Iraq and Syria.”
Nunes did not elaborate on his remarks.