The attempted coup in Turkey will have worldwide consequences, though some of the strongest reverberations may be felt in an unlikely place — the Poconos.
Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told local media that those behind the military uprising were linked to exiled imam Fethullah Gulen, who lives in eastern Pennsylvania.
Gulen, a 75-year-old who is known for supporting a moderate version of Islam, left his homeland in 1999 but still continues to influence developments from thousands of miles away.
He had been allied with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who urged his supporters to protest out into the streets during the coup after soldiers took over TV stations and government buildings.
The leader said that those responsible would be punished for their “treachery,” and said during a Facetime interview that his country “will not be run from a house in Pennsylvania.”
His bizarre reference to the U.S. comes after Erdogan and his fellow Islamist have had a massive falling out since 2013, when police and prosecutors thought to be connected to Gulen’s movement opened a corruption probe against members of the president’s Justice and Development Party.
Earlier this year the Turkish government declared that followers of the cleric’s Hizmet movement were terrorists seeking to overthrow the government and has unsucecssfully sought his extradition.
Dozens were reported dead after military forces declared that they were taking control of Turkey. Above, protesters climb on a tank.
Gulen’s movement has denied any involvement with Friday night’s chaos that left dozens dead across the country and said that comments from pro-Erdogan officials were “highly irresponsible.”
“For more than 40 years, Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet participants have advocated for, and demonstrated their commitment to, peace and democracy. We have consistently denounced military interventions in domestic politics,” his Manhattan-based Alliance for Shared Values group said in a statement.
Gulen, who is also behind an international network of charter schools, is rarely seen outside his Golden Generation Worship & Retreat Center in Saylorsburg, Pa., and is believed to have heart disease and diabetes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that those behind the coup would be punished for their “treachery.”
However, a lawyer for the Turkish government hired to file a lawsuit Gulen in the U.S., said that “putsch.”
“According to Turkish intelligence sources I have spoken with, there are indications of direct involvement by the powerful fugitive cleric Fethullah Gülenm,” attorney Robert Amsterdam said.
“We have attempted repeatedly to warn the U.S. government of the threat posed by this organization, however, at the same time, the Gülenists have been waging their own campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the elected Turkish government.”