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Turkey Issues Formal Warrant for U.S.-Based Muslim Cleric Gülen

Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen speaks to members of the media at his compound, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Saylorsburg, Pa. / AP
• August 4, 2016 4:45 pm

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Turkey has issued a formal arrest warrant for the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuses of plotting the failed July 15 coup attempt to overthrow the government.

An Istanbul court issued the warrant for "ordering the 15 July coup attempt" that left 270 dead, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Gülen, who resides in Pennsylvania and has lived in the U.S. since 1999, strongly denies any involvement in or prior knowledge of the coup. Erdoğan, who used to be allied with Gülen, now views the preacher as a major political threat and has led an effort to purge the country of anything he views as connected to the Gülenist movement.

The Turkish president pledged Thursday to go after businesses connected to Gülen.

"Without doubt, this organization has an extension in the business world. Maybe it is what they are most powerful at," Erdoğan said in Ankara. "We are determined to totally cut off all business links of this organization, which has blood on its hands."

Turkey sent two documents to the U.S. last month for Gülen’s extradition, but Ankara has not made a formal extradition request yet. U.S. officials are reviewing the Turkish documents to determine if they do constitute a formal request.

Secretary of State John Kerry previously said the U.S. would comply with Turkey’s extradition request if it provides sufficient evidence that Gülen was behind the coup.

Turkey previously issued an arrest warrant for Gülen in December 2014 on charges of setting up and directing an "armed terrorist organization" and using intimidation to target a person’s freedom.

More than 18,000 people have been detained and thousands of military and police personnel have been removed from their positions by Erdoğan in the wake of the coup.