The Cable

Turkish Embassy Deplores ‘Prejudiced’ U.S. Media, Rolls Out Official Coup Documentary

Decrying a spate of negative press coverage, the Turkish Embassy in Washington made its case to reporters Friday that Ankara has not abused its authority in the wake of a failed coup, screening a slick, government-produced documentary that shows tanks running over protesters and fighter jets strafing a city.

WASHINGTON DC, UNITED STATES - MAY 14 : Turkey's Ambassador to The United States of America, Serdar Kilic gives speech during an organization held to raise awareness of Syrian conflict, including a piano recital performed by teenage pianist Tambi Asaad Cimuk on May 14, 2015 at Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, United States. Cimuk fled from Syria about two years ago with his family to seek refuge in Turkey. The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed the decree that had approved by the prime minister and 24 other Turkish ministers on 08th of December 2014 that made Cimuk, who is Syrian of Circassian origin, a Turkish citizen. (Photo by Muhammed Bilal Kenasari/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON DC, UNITED STATES - MAY 14 : Turkey's Ambassador to The United States of America, Serdar Kilic gives speech during an organization held to raise awareness of Syrian conflict, including a piano recital performed by teenage pianist Tambi Asaad Cimuk on May 14, 2015 at Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, United States. Cimuk fled from Syria about two years ago with his family to seek refuge in Turkey. The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed the decree that had approved by the prime minister and 24 other Turkish ministers on 08th of December 2014 that made Cimuk, who is Syrian of Circassian origin, a Turkish citizen. (Photo by Muhammed Bilal Kenasari/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Decrying a spate of negative press coverage, the Turkish Embassy in Washington made its case to reporters Friday that Ankara has not abused its authority in the wake of a failed coup, screening a slick, government-produced documentary that shows tanks running over protesters and fighter jets strafing a city.

Much of the film appeared to be taken from security cameras perched on buildings or from international TV news clips, including footage of a soldier shooting a civilian at point-blank range.

“Please give the benefit of the doubt to a government that has barely survived the worst attack on Turkish democracy in its history,” Turkish Ambassador to the United States Serdar Kilic said, citing the deaths of 246 people and the injuries of more than 2,000.

“There is a prejudice that President Erdogan and the government of Turkey is trying to take advantage of the attempted coup.”

In recent days, Turkey has suspended, detained, or placed under investigation more than 60,000 judges, soldiers, police, civil servants, and teachers suspected of ties with accused coup plotter Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in the United States. Western governments and rights activists have raised concerns that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown may be extending beyond the coup plotters and targeting his political opponents — a charge Kilic denied.

“If it was the case” that Erdogan was exploiting the coup to crack down on the political opposition, “then not all the political parties would stand with the government in their fight against this terrorist organization,” he said, noting statements by Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, and the Nationalist Movement Party condemning the coup attempt by a faction of the military.

Kilic repeatedly referred to the Gulen movement as a terrorist organization and said his government would continue pressing the United States to extradite the Pennsylvania-based religious cleric. When asked if Ankara submitted a formal extradition request to the Washington, he said officials “submitted the necessary documentation” to U.S. authorities.

Secretary of State John Kerry has said the United States will consider any extradition request for Gulen from Turkey but that Washington’s decision will be based on the strength of the evidence. “Obviously, we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny,” Kerry said earlier this week. “And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments about it appropriately.”

When James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, was asked on Thursday if allegations that Gulen orchestrated the coup attempt passed the “smell test,” Clapper told the Washington Post “No. Not to me.”

When asked if Turkey had evidence directly linking Gulen to the coup, Kilic stated that a “number of plotters who have been apprehended” have “confessed direct links” to Gulen. He said the confessions would be publicized at some point but did not give a specific date.

Asked how far the purges might go, Kilic said: “If you ask my opinion, it should go to the extent possible until the point where we can ensure that no attempt again will be orchestrated against the Turkish democratic system of government.”

John Hudson is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, where he covers diplomacy and national security issues in Washington. He has reported from several geopolitical hotspots, including Ukraine, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, and Georgia. Prior to joining FP, John covered politics and global affairs for the Atlantic magazine’s news blog, the Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August war between Russia and Georgia from Tbilisi and the breakaway region of Abkhazia. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, Al Jazeera, and other broadcast outlets. He has been with the magazine since 2013. @john_hudson

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