NEW: Cleric Fethullah Gulen says Erdogan is persecuting his critics
Purge widens with more than thousands detained or suspended in Turkey
Turkey has formally requested the extradition of cleric Fethullah Gulen from the United States, the Prime Minister said Tuesday, as the government widens its purge following a failed military coup over the weekend.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Gulen, a longtime bitter rival, for the attempted coup that began Friday night, leaving at least 232 people dead and leading to mass arrests and dismissals.
Erdogan told CNN in an exclusive interview Monday that the extradition request was coming soon.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced the request Tuesday in Parliament and on Twitter referred to Gulen as a “terrorist leader.”
The Muslim cleric has denied any involvement in the coup attempt.