Berlin says no list of Gülen followers received from Erdoğan

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) hold a joint press conference following their meeting in Berlin, Germany on September 28, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

In stark contradiction with remarks from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who claimed to having submitted to Berlin a list of 136 Gülen movement followers in Germany and demanding that legal action be taken against them, Berlin has said it did not receive any such list, the Turkish edition of Deutsche Welle reported on Monday.

Erdoğan paid an official visit to Germany last week. Speaking to Turkish journalists who accompanied him during his visit to Germany, he said a list of 136 Gülen followers was given to the German government demanding Germany to take legal action against them or extradite them to Turkey.

Erdoğan and his government accuse the Gülen movement, inspired by the views of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding a failed coup attempt in July 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch.

German government officials who spoke anonymously to Deutsche Welle’s Turkish edition said they did not receive any such list from Erdoğan.

Erdoğan told the Turkish journalists he does not exactly know the names on the list but said it was an extensive list that was given to Berlin, adding that he expects the country to act with sensitivity on the issue.

German government officials said Erdoğan was misinformed or informed poorly about the list issue, adding that significant problems were experienced during the planning stage and execution of Erdoğan’s visit.

There was a serious lack of communication on the Turkish side, the German officials said.

More than 150,000 people have been detained and 90,000 put in pretrial detention in Turkey over Gülen links since the summer of 2016. Meanwhile, Erdoğan has called on foreign governments to punish Gülen followers in their countries.

So far, a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Georgia and Myanmar have handed over academics, businessmen and school principals upon the Turkish government’s request despite the fact that some of those victims already had refugee status with the United Nations. In some countries, Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) carried out the arrests itself with or without the involvement of local law enforcement.

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