Obama Urges Turkey to Show Restraint After Failed Coup

Obama Urges Turkey to Show Restraint After Failed CoupObama Urges Turkey to Show Restraint After Failed Coup

US President Barack Obama spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, offering US assistance as Ankara investigates last week’s attempted coup, but urging the government to show restraint as it pursues those connected in the failed attempt.

White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, said the two leaders discussed the status of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has accused of being behind the coup attempt and whose extradition Turkey has said it will seek, Al Jazeera reports.

Earnest said the Turkish government had filed materials in electronic form with the US government, which US officials were reviewing.

He said any extradition request from Turkey, once submitted, would be evaluated under the terms of a treaty between the two countries.

The US State Department later said it was still in the process of analyzing materials submitted by Turkey, but that it could not characterize the documents as an official extradition request for Gulen.

Gulen, who is a resident in the US, has denied any involvement in the military plot to topple the government and hinted that the coup might have been staged to justify his arrest.

Gulen urged Washington on Tuesday to reject Turkey’s efforts to extradite him.

“Erdogan today once again demonstrated he will go to any length necessary to solidify his power and persecute his critics,” Gulen said in a statement.

“I urge the US government to reject any effort to abuse the extradition process to carry out political vendettas.”

Widening Purge

Around 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained since the coup attempt, stirring tensions across the country of 80 million, which borders Syria’s chaos and is a western ally against the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

“This parallel terrorist organization will no longer be an effective pawn for any country,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, referring to what the government has long alleged is a state within a state controlled by followers of Gulen.

“We will dig them up by their roots,” he told parliament.

As many as 20,000 government employees have been detained, or are being pursued by the authorities, including 185 admirals and colonels, and 1,500 finance ministry officials.

They are part of a widening purge by the Erdogan government targeting alleged supporters of a coup attempt on Friday.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that 257 employees from Yildirim’s own office had been removed from duty.

Turkey’s Education Ministry on Tuesday suspended 15,200 personnel in connection with the failed coup, state media reported. Later, the High Education Board ordered the resignation of all 1,577 deans employed at all universities, TRT reported.