Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said his country has the right to kill individuals abroad who Turkey sees as threats to its national security, adding that good news on the issue would come soon.
Erdoğan’s controversial remarks came during his party’s weekly meeting on Wednesday.
In an apparent reference to the recent killing of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by US forces in Syria, Erdoğan said: “Some countries find the terrorists they see as threats to their national security wherever they are and kill them. So this means they acknowledge that Turkey has such a right as well. This includes the terrorists with whom they shake hands and praise a lot. God willing, we will give good news to our nation about this issue soon.”
Erdoğan’s remarks have led to concerns among the critics of Erdoğan who are labeled as terrorists by the Erdoğan government.
Erdoğan has been waging an unprecedented crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement over the past several years as it accuses the movement of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch.
Thousands of followers of the movement have fled the country to avoid jail as more than 600,000 people have been investigated over Gülen links and more than 30,000 have been jailed as part of these investigations.
Erdoğan also accuses the Kurds supporting the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of links to terrorism.
Last year, HDP İstanbul deputy Garo Paylan announced that the Turkish government established an assassination team to kill government opponents abroad. Paylan said he confirmed this information from multiple sources and that there would be a series of assassinations of Turkish citizens abroad, mainly those in Germany.