The head of the German Secret services (BND), Bruno Kahl, told Der Spiegel magazine that his agency is “not convinced” the Philadelphia-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, organized Turkey’s July 15 coup attempt.
Kahl’s view is that the Gulen movement is not a terrorist organization but a “civic association that aims to provide further religious and secular education.”
“Turkey has tried to convince us of that at every level but so far it has not succeeded,” BND head Bruno Kahl said in an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel published on Saturday.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government accuse Gulen of orchestrating Turkey’s failed coup on July 15 in which more than 240 people were killed when rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, warplanes and helicopters, attacking parliament and attempting to overthrow the government.
Erdogan and the Turkish government want the United States to extradite Gulen, who denies involvement in the coup attempt.
Asked whether the Gulen movement was extreme Islamist or terrorist, Kahl said it was a “civil association that aims to provide further religious and secular education”.
Kahl also said he did not think the Turkish government was behind the coup, saying: “The coup attempt was not initiated by the government. Before July 15 the government had already started a big purge so parts of the military thought they should do a coup quickly before it hit them too.”
In a similar development, David Nunes, the United State House Intelligence Committee chairman has said it is “hard to believe” that U.S.-based Turkish cleric is behind the military coup attempt last summer, questioning Turkey as a reliable ally.
“I find that hard to believe,” David Nunes told Chris Wallace from Fox News when asked if cleric Fethullah Gulen is the architect of the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
Mr. Nunes added that the government of Mr. Erdogan is becoming very authoritarian and that Ankara, as a NATO ally, is “becoming more and more worrisome in terms of actually being a reliable ally.” Mr. Nunes noted that he has not seen the evidence that Mr. Gulen was involved in the coup attempt and that he does not know if the U.S. is going to extradite “somebody like that.”
He added that if there was an evidence linking Mr. Gulen to the coup attempt in Turkey that would be “a different issue.”