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Turkey has issued a new arrest warrant for Gulen over coup attempt

Gulen still denies he was involved in coup and dismisses warrant

CNN  — 

Exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen has dismissed a new Turkish arrest warrant accusing him of organizing the failed July coup, saying it “changes nothing.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Gulen said the warrant changed neither his status nor his views.

“I have repeatedly condemned the coup attempt in Turkey and denied any knowledge or involvement,” he said.

“It is well-documented that the Turkish court system is without judicial independence, so this warrant is yet another example of President Erdogan’s drive for authoritarianism and away from democracy.”

A brutal crackdown on alleged rebels has followed a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, which has led to the arrest of thousands of teachers, soldiers and judges.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly blamed his rival Gulen, a 75-year-old imam who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, for organizing the coup.

Earlier on Thursday, a Turkish court issued an arrest warrant Gulen for allegedly “leading the July 15th coup,” according to Turkish State News Agency Anadolu.

This is the ninth arrest warrant issued for Gulen by the government but the first alleging his involvement in the failed coup – the others accused him of involvement in a terrorist organization.

Speaking during a visit to the U.S., Turkish Commission of Foreign Affairs chairman Taha Ozhan compared Gulen to Osama Bin Laden and called on America to extradite him.

A delegation of Turkish parliamentarians is in the U.S. for meetings with the Justice Department, to ask that they hand Gulen over. They said they have given U.S. 85 boxes of material and evidence to support their case.

CNN’s Richard Roth and Isil Sariyuce contributed to this report.