Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated on Tuesday that US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen would be brought to Turkey “sooner or later.”
Speaking at his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group meeting in Ankara, Erdoğan reiterated that a total of 80 members of the Gülen movement abroad have been brought back to Turkey so far. “The situation of the head of these terrorists, who feels safe in Pennsylvania, will be no different. Sooner or later we will get him,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan also claimed that followers of the Gülen movement “betrayed this country” and threatened that “they will get a fitting response.”
“Members of the movement will be punished whether they intended evil or not,” Erdoğan said and added: “Those who act with terrorists, in our eyes, are no different than terrorists. If some have mistakenly fallen in with them, I’m sorry, but when the time comes they will find themselves accounting for it in court. We are bringing justice to FETÖ’s men at home and abroad.”
“FETÖ” is a derogatory term used by the Turkish government and President Erdoğan for the Gülen movement.
Erdoğan on Sunday had also praised the abduction of people allegedly linked to the Gülen movement by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and said Fethullah Gülen would be brought to Turkey as well. “We have brought 80 FETÖ members [to Turkey] from abroad to date. We will be after the others. You, in Pennsylvania, you will be brought here, too. It does not matter how much you move around,” said Erdoğan during an AKP meeting in İstanbul.
Turkish nationals Osman Özpınar, İbrahim Akbaş and Adnan Demirönal were caught in Gabon in a MİT operation and taken to Turkey by private jet last week. Also, on March 29, MİT abducted six Turkish nationals linked to the Gülen movement from Kosovo.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, 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.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”