Fethullah Gulen
Fethullah Gulen Reuters

Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who was blamed for the failed coup in Turkey, hinted on Saturday the uprising by members of the country’s military could have been “staged” by the government.

In a rare and brief interview on Saturday with a small group of journalists at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Gulen rejected all accusations that he was behind the coup attempt.

“I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Erdogan,” Gulen said, according to the British Guardian newspaper.

“There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup and it could be meant for further accusations [against the Gulenists],” he added.

Gulen, who leads from exile a popular movement called Hizmet and split from Erdogan over a corruption scandal in 2013, stressed he rejected all military interventions, and said he had personally suffered after the coups of the 1990s.

“After military coups in Turkey,” he said, “I have been pressured and I have been imprisoned. I have been tried and faced various forms of harassment.”

“Now that Turkey is on the path to democracy, it cannot turn back,” added Gulen, according to The Guardian.

Erdogan has long accused Gulen of running a parallel state from abroad.

Gulen's supporters have become subjects of a crackdown, which includes raids and arrests.

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