The United States’ ambassador to Turkey has again said his country played no role in last month’s failed coup attempt, showing exasperation with persistent accusations to the contrary, local media reported on Saturday.
“I just want to say again, as I’ve said before and as we’ve said from Washington, the United States government did not plan, direct, support or have any advance knowledge of any of the illegal activities that occurred the night of July 15 and into July 16. Full stop,” US ambassador John Bass said in remarks published in English daily Hurriyet Daily News.
He added that he was “deeply disturbed and offended by the accusations” targeting his country.
The July 15 military action blamed by Ankara on US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen has rattled Turkey’s relations with the United States, with Ankara warning Washington that ties will suffer if it fails to extradite Pennyslvania-based Gulen.
Erdogan has also described the failed military action as a “scenario written from outside” in an allusion to foreign involvement.
Shortly after the coup attempt, Labour Minister Suleyman Soylu went even further to say “the United States is behind the coup.”
And this week, Turkey’s former army chief, Ilker Basbug, claimed that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was also behind it.
“Frankly, if we would have had knowledge we would have told the Turkish government about it immediately,” Bass said.
He said the US wants to see a “strong, prosperous, democratic, confident Turkey.
“Anyone who thinks that the United States somehow profits from Turkey being divided and destabilized I think is misreading history to a profound degree.”
Bass on July 18 rebutted claims his country supported the putsch as “untrue” and “harmful.”
Meanwhile, a US citizen of Turkish origin was arrested in southern Hatay province as part of a probe into the failed coup, state-run Anadolu news agency reported Friday, quoting a local governor.
Acting on a tip-off that he was a member of Gulen movement, police detained 36-year-old Serkan Golge, who said he was visiting his family in Hatay, governor Ercan Topaca said.
He was later remanded in custody by a local court.
The governor added that Golge studied at a Gulen-linked school in Turkey and then moved to the United States for higher education and worked at NASA.
A German national has also been caught up in the purge, Berlin said Friday, after books were found at her home suggesting she had links with the Gulen movement or was a member of it.
A senior Turkish official said Turkey’s intelligence found that two encrypted messaging apps, ByLock and Eagle, were used by FETO operatives to communicate messages and receive information from cells.
FETO is the name Ankara gives to the movement it claims is running a “parallel state.”
“We are prepared to confirm that the organisation continues to communicate using Eagle at this time,” the official added.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Saturday chaired a security summit of justice, foreign, interior and defence ministers as well as army chief of staff Hulusi Akar and spy chief Hakan Fidan.
Erdogan’s government is readying for a “Democracy and Martyrs” rally in Istanbul’s Yenikapi square on Sunday, which hundreds of thousands of people are expected to join.
Other rallies will also be held across the country.
The main Istanbul rally, set to be attended by opposition leaders save for those from Kurdish parties, will be the last of a series held daily since people first took to the streets to answer Erdogan’s appeal for support immediately following the coup.