Ankara, July 17: Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in exile in the US, has implied that the failed coup attempt in Turkey could have been orchestrated and staged by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself.
In a brief statement from his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Gulen, who has been accused by the Turkish government of instigating Friday's coup attempt and whom the Turkish government asked the US to "send back", on Saturday said the use of force was not the way to effect change in Turkey, Efe news reported.
"There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup," said Gulen, who once again denied any involvement in the failed coup that has left more than 160 persons dead.
During the coup attempt, Erdogan claimed, the rebelling soldiers received orders from Pennsylvania, referring to Gulen's residence in the US.
Gulen said he rejected all military interventions, as he had personally suffered after the coups of the 1990s.
"After military coups in Turkey, I have been pressured and I have been imprisoned. I have been tried and faced various forms of harassment," the Guardian quoted Gulen as saying.
The Turkish President on Saturday urged the US not to protect Gulen, while US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed to have received no extradition petition or legitimate proof of the cleric's role in the incident.
Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, has been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2013, when Erdogan accused him of promoting corruption scandals against his government.
Since then, the government has included the influential cleric on its list of most wanted terrorists and sought his extradition for judicial trial that could result in life imprisonment.