At issue is Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who lives in Pennsylvania in self-exile, whom Erdogan is demanding be extradited to Turkey. Erdogan claims Gulen is behind the attempted coup, and the U.S., for all extensive purposes, is harboring him.
But Kerry slammed any implications that the U.S. had any involvement in the attempted coup. "He made clear that the United States would be willing to provide assistance to Turkish authorities conducting this investigation, but that public insinuations or claims about any role by the United States in the failed coup attempt are utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations," Kerry spokesman John Kirby said late Saturday, referring to a conversation between Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosoglu.
Erdogan has claimed that Gulen inspired and mobilized his supporters in his native Turkey, and directed the coup. Gulen, a staunch democracy advocate, is a former Erdogan ally turned bitter foe who has been put on trial in absentia in Turkey.
And Erdogan, saying he is convinced Gulen is responsible for the attempted coup, is not mincing words over his anger with the U.S. "I say to America: Either execute or give the man who lives in a 400,000 square meter area in Pennsylvania," Ergodan told a crowd of supporters in Turkey Saturday. "I call again after the attempted coup. Deliver him to Turkey."