Sat, Oct 22, 2016 | updated 06:53 PM IST

Turkish Prez demands U.S. to extradite rival cleric

Updated: Jul 17, 2016 12:13 IST

New York, July 17 (ANI): Firmly stating that his government is in full control, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded the U.S to arrest or extradite exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen whom he blames for a coup attempt.

The failed coup by a faction of military ended with nearly 200 people dead.

Gulen, living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, had reportedly suggested that assassination attempts have been staged in the past.

He, however, did not directly accuse Erdogan of deliberately plunging Turkey into chaos.

"This country suffered a lot in the hands of the Gulen Movement," CNN quoted Erdogan as saying near his home in Istanbul.

"I call on the United States and President Barack Obama ... (to) either arrest Fethullah Gulen or return him to Turkey," he added.

The coup exposes deep discontent within the military ranks and questions still remain about who was behind it and why they decided to act now.

The military said that the government had lost all legitimacy and pressed that it wanted to maintain democratic order.

Officials said that at least 161 civilians and around 20 coup plotters were killed.

At least 2,839 military officers were detained after the failed coup.

The Ankara chief public prosecutor's office reportedly took nearly 200 top Turkish court officials into custody.

Erdogan's call for the U.S. involvement in punishing his rival comes after Turkish authorities closed the airspace around its Incirlik Air Base, which American military uses to launch operations in the air campaign against the ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

He was elected the Prime Minister in 2003 and Turkey became a powerhouse in the Middle East under his rule.

In 2014, his reign came to an end and his own party's rules prevented him from seeking a fourth term.

He later ran for the President's post and won. (ANI)