Turkey calls on US to extradite Muslim cleric accused of failed coup attempt

Cleric Fetullah Gulen has been accused of organising the coup, which has left more than 265 people dead.

A tank crashes against a car as people take to the streets in Ankara, Turkey, during a protest against a military coup. Picture: AFP.

ISTANBUL - Turkey has called on the United States to speed up the extradition of a Muslim cleric, who has been accused of heading the attempted coup on Friday night.

Turkish President Tayypid Erdogan says calls for the death penalty may also be discussed in parliament. The attempted coup saw civilians take on the military who surrendered.

Cleric Fetullah Gulen has been accused of organising the coup, which has left more than 265 people dead.

The government says the coup bid was organised by followers of Gulen, who is accused of pursuing a long-running campaign to overthrow the government through supporters within Turkey, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

As sounds of a special prayer from all Mosques echoed throughout Istanbul last night, Turkish people took to the streets to protest against the failed coup.

Erdogan called on the public to come out in their numbers to go to various squares to give those who were behind the coup the best answer.

People had gathered in several provinces across the country chanting praises while waving Turkish flags and honking horns for Erdogan's govt. Some streets were closed to the traffic and police took extra security measures.

Meanwhile, a joint declaration was signed by Turkey's four main political parties during an extraordinary parliamentary session.

Parliament was praised for continuing to work "as one under bombs and bullets."

More than 130 members of the Turkey's judiciary have been detained over the attempted coup. The country's top judicial board also suspended over 2,800 judges.

Among those detained were top military commanders, including the head of the Second Army which protects the country's borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Hundreds of soldiers were held in Ankara for alleged involvement in the coup, leaving police stations overflowing.

Some had to be taken under armed police escort in buses to a sports stadium. Reuters footage showed some of the detainees, handcuffed and stripped from the waist up, sitting on the floor of one of the buses.

The government declared the situation under control, saying 2,839 people had been rounded up, from foot soldiers to senior officers, including those who formed "the backbone" of the rebellion.

Erdogan has blamed the coup on supporters of Gulen, who he has frequently accused of trying to foment uprising in the military, media and judiciary.

Ten members of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors and two members of the Constitutional Court have already been detained, officials said.



A successful overthrow of Erdogan, who has ruled the country of about 80 million people since 2003, would have marked another seismic shift in the Middle East, five years after the Arab uprisings erupted and plunged Turkey's southern neighbor Syria into civil war.

However, a failed coup attempt could still destabilise the Nato member and major US ally that lies between the European Union and the chaos of Syria, with Islamic State bombers targeting Turkish cities and the government also at war with Kurdish separatists.

US President Barack Obama expressed support for Turkey's government and urged parties on all sides of the crisis to avoid destabilising the country and follow the rule of law. But his secretary of state, John Kerry, warned Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that public suggestions of a US role in the plot were "utterly false" and harmful to relations.

Erdogan, who had been holidaying on the southwest coast when the coup was launched, flew into Istanbul before dawn on Saturday and told thousands of flag-waving supporters at the airport that the government remained at the helm.

A polarising figure whose Islamist-rooted ideology lies at odds with supporters of modern Turkey's secular principles, Erdogan said the plotters had tried to attack him in the resort town of Marmaris.

"They bombed places I had departed from right after I was gone," he said. "They probably thought we were still there."

Erdogan's AK Party has long had strained relations with the military, which has a history of mounting coups to defend secularism although it has not seized power directly since 1980.


His conservative religious vision for Turkey's future has also alienated many ordinary citizens who accuse him of authoritarianism. Police used heavy force in 2013 to suppress mass protests demanding more freedom.

He commands the admiration and loyalty of millions of Turks, however, particularly for raising living standards and restoring order to an economy once beset by regular crises, which grew 4.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter.

The violence is likely to hit a tourism industry already suffering from the bombings, and business confidence is also vulnerable.

Additional information by Reuters