Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted on Sunday that "his people" believe the U.S. to be behind the failed military coup that took place in Turkey this past summer.
Speaking to “60 Minutes” and quoted by The Hill, Erdogan said he won't blame the U.S. for the failed coup attempt, but questioned why the U.S. has not yet extradited exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, Erdogan’s rival who is being accused of organizing the coup.
"I'm not going to blame the United States. But that's what my people will think. Why are you still keeping that man? So as long you harbor him there, I'm sorry, don't get offended. But this is the -- perception of the Turkish nation and the Turkish people," said the Turkish president.
Erdogan dodged a question about whether he is doing anything to discourage the Turkish people from believing the U.S. was behind the coup.
"I cannot deceive my people. I cannot deceive my people here. Because I’m suffering right now. The United States is not suffering," he said.
"But I’m suffering because of the 241 martyrs that we have buried."
Gulen leads from exile a popular movement called Hizmet and split from Erdogan over a corruption scandal in 2013. Erdogan has long accused him of running a parallel state from abroad.
Erdogan on Sunday again blamed the coup on Gulen, whose followers have infiltrated Turkish military, judiciary and civil service.
"This man is the leader of a terrorist organization that has bombed my parliament. We have extradited terrorists to the United States in the past. And we expect the same thing to be done by the United States," Erdogan said.
Turkey has asked U.S. authorities to extradite Gulen to face justice back home and expressed impatience with the slowness of the procedure.
The U.S. has maintained that the extradition process must be handled through its courts to evaluate the evidence.
Gulen denies orchestrating the coup attempt, and has hinted that the uprising could have been “staged” by the government.