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1/18/17

Turkey: Erdogan plotted Turkey purge before coup, say Brussels spies - by Runo Waterfield

 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan planned to purge opposition forces in the military before July’s attempted coup, according to a secret EU intelligence report.

The European intelligence contradicts the Turkish government’s claim that exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the plot to overthrow the Turkish government. Ankara is seeking Mr Gulen’s extradition from the US.

The report by the EU intelligence centre Intcen found the coup was mounted by a range of opponents to Mr Erdogan and his ruling AK Party.

“The decision to launch the coup resulted from the fears of an incoming purge. It is likely that a group of officers comprising Gulenists, Kemalists (secularists), opponents of the AKP and opportunists was behind the coup. It is unlikely that Gulen himself played a role in the attempt,” said the report, dated August 24.

“The coup was just a catalyst for the crackdown prepared in ­advance.”

Mr Gulen’s followers spent decades placing their supporters in senior positions in the police, judiciary and other institutions, building a network that enabled him to “influence the situation in the country and control the activities of President Erdogan”, according to EU intelligence sources

That situation “changed” after Mr Erdogan began purges of the police and state administration in 2014, weakening the Gulenists as well as targeting other opposition tendencies such as Kemalists and civil activists.

In a blow to Turkey’s claims that Mr Gulen masterminded the coup, the European intelligence report noted that his Islamist followers were weak in the Turkish army, which until last July remained a bastion of secularism.

Read more: Erdogan plotted Turkey purge before coup, say Brussels spies

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