Tunca Bengin, a pro-government columnist for the Milliyet daily, claimed on Thursday that Turkish authorities considered assassinating exiled members of the Gülen movement, citing a high-ranking official from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the Ipa news website reported.
The columnist suggested that they were reluctant to do so due to a likely diplomatic crisis with Western governments.
The Gülen movement, led by US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, is accused of masterminding a failed coup in Turkey in 2016 and is designated as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government.
Gülen strongly denies any involvement in the attempted putsch or terrorism-related charges that the Turkish government has leveled against him and his movement.
Turkey’s government has been pursuing a relentless crackdown on the movement since the coup attempt, sacking more than 150,000 people from government posts while investigating half a million, according to government figures.
Bengin also referred to some 100 cases in which MİT abducted Turkish nationals on foreign soil and brought them to Turkey, boasting about the intelligence service’s capabilities.
“They have MİT breathing down their neck, and furthermore, neutralizing them where they are is being discussed,” Bengin wrote in his column.
“They should be punished,” Bengin quoted his anonymous source as saying, “… the reckoning with these [Gülenists] must be pursued to the bitter end.”
According to Bengin’s article, MIT official claimed that while assassinations are possible and could be carried out with ease, they not were prudent due to the diplomatic backlash they would unleash.