Turkey accused Greece on Friday of being a safe heaven for Gulenists, supporters of Fethullah Gulen, whose organization, FETO, is classified as terrorist by Ankara.
“It is observed that Greece has become a safe haven for FETO members. FETO members can roam freely in this country, and so-called NGOs affiliated with FETO can carry out aid activities for fugitive FETÖ members in Greece,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.
Turkey is angry because Gulen sent a video message to an online promotional event in Athens for a book written about him.
“Greece is a sister country,” Gulen said. “Thanks to this brotherhood, we remember them with gratitude and appreciation. [What Greece did] will be written on the glorious pages of history with gold and silver.”
The book, Fethullah Gulen: A Life of Service, was written by US historian Jon Pahl and translated into Greek by Papazisis Publishers in Greece.
Turkey says thousands of FETO members fled to Greece
“It is a grave development that broadcasting the video message of the FETO ringleader [Fetullah Gulen] making terrorist propaganda, which could not be explained by freedom of press and expression,” Aksoy stressed.
Turkey claims that FETO and Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
It says thousands of FETO members fled to Greece after the coup attempt.
Critic of Erdogan’s Turkey
Fethullah Gulen, who is living in self-exile in the United States, is a Turkish Islamic scholar and preacher.
Turkey is demanding the extradition of Gulen from the United States.
But, U.S. government officials do not believe he is associated with any terrorist activity, and have requested evidence to be provided by the Turkish Government to substantiate the allegations in the warrant requesting extradition, frequently rejecting Turkish calls for his extradition.
In a February 2019 opinion piece, Gulen said that “Erdogan is draining the reputation that the Turkish Republic has gained in the international arena, pushing Turkey into the league of nations known for suffocating freedoms and jailing democratic dissenters.”
He has been described in the English-language media as an imam “who promotes a tolerant Islam which emphasises altruism, hard work and education” and as “one of the world’s most important Muslim figures.”