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Erdogan says informing on Gulen 'patriotic duty'

Published:Thursday | August 11, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dance during an anti coup rally at Taksim square in Istanbul, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. The failed July 15th coup left more than 270 people dead and about 18,000 people have been detained or arrested.



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged a group of businessmen on Wednesday to inform authorities about companies or business people they suspect of supporting a US-based Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating Turkey's failed July 15 coup, saying they deserved "no pity".

The statement was likely to fan concerns over Turkey's large-scale crackdown on followers of the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, and raise questions over whether the

government would start a witch-hunt based on an army of informants.

"You may have friends from the community," Erdogan told a group of Turkish exporters. "I say you have to expose them. You have to inform them to prosecutors and the police. Why? This is our patriotic duty."




"In the same way that we are removing the (Gulen organisation) from the armed forces, the judiciary, the police, we have to remove them from the business world," Erdogan said. "We have no right to show pity toward those who showed no mercy to their country or people."

The government launched a sweeping crackdown after the coup, targeting followers of Gulen, whom it accuses of orchestrating the attempted putsch that left more than 270 dead.

Some 16,000 people have been formally arrested in connection to the coup, while thousands more have been detained for questioning. Tens of thousands of people with suspected links to Gulen have also been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in the judiciary, media, education, health care, military and local government.

Turkey has designated Gulen's movement a terror organisation and wants him extradited from the United States to face trial. Gulen, who runs a network of charities and schools worldwide, has repeatedly denied involvement in the coup.

Later on Wednesday, Erdogan addressed hundreds of people who gathered on the grounds of his presidential palace in Ankara and reiterated Turkey's demand that Gulen be extradited.

"Sooner or later, the United States will make a choice: either Turkey or (Gulen); either the coup-plotter terrorist (Gulen) or Turkey, the country of democracy, it has to make a choice," Erdogan said. "The United States can no longer harbour this oppressor, this charlatan, and will send him back."