Turkey Coup Plotters ‘More Dangerous Than Zika Virus’
Deputy leader of governing party says Fetullah Terrorist Organization worse than deadly virus
A leading figure in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party on Tuesday labeled the group said to be behind the July 15 failed coup as “more dangerous than the Zika virus”.
Deputy Chairman Mehdi Eker made his comments about the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) at a news conference at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport before heading to the U.S. as part of a delegation seeking the extradition of FETO leader Fetullah Gulen.
He said the delegation had information that FETO had paid $8 million to a lobbying company in Washington. “This is a huge [amount of] capital… It is much more than what an international company uses for advertising. That’s what kind of a group it is. Therefore, it is more dangerous than the Zika virus,” Eker said.
The Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains in South America and has been declared a global public health emergency.
Six AK Party deputies are heading to the U.S. to meet lawmakers, NGOs, think tanks and media representatives “both to discuss Gulen’s extradition and to eliminate the negative effects of lobbying activities in the U.S. against Turkey,” Eker told journalists.
FETO’s lobbying campaign was begun to “lay the groundwork to legitimatize a coup in Turkey,” Eker added, and included “many defamations and allegations against Mr. President [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] and Turkey.”
Turkish officials have submitted a formal request for the extradition of Gulen, who is accused of leading a long-running campaign to overthrow the government through the infiltration of state institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
The July coup attempt, which left more than 240 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured, was carried out by Gulen’s followers. He has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since 1999.
Asked if he believed the U.S. meetings would affect the view of the U.S. government, Eker said he hoped for an outcome “befitting the relations between friends and allies.”
He added: “We are hopeful. Because after all, they have declared that they would like to cooperate and sincerely help Turkey in this regard.
“In the same way we were pretty understanding after the Pentagon was attacked on Sept. 11… we expect the same cooperation and understanding from them.”