Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused U.S-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of masterminding a conspiracy to undermine his Justice and Development (AK) Party government Anadolu Agency reported.
Erdogan spoke Saturday in a rally in the western province of Denizli as part of his campaign for the upcoming local elections in Turkey on March 30.
The Turkish premier lashed out at Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based self-exiled Muslim cleric. "If you want to make politics, organize a political party, and bring your leader from the United States," he called on followers of Gulen's 'Hizmet' ("Service") movement.
Tensions between the government and Gulen's movement were heightened after a high-profile anti-graft investigation launched on December 17, 2014 saw a number of business people, and the sons of three former cabinet members arrested. Erdogan dismissed the investigation as a "dirty plot" to undermine the stability of his government.
"The person who is in Pennsylvania is behind the 17 December operations and also the eavesdropping scam," said Erdogan, implicating Gulen during his speech.
Erdogan talked about one of Gulen's quotes from an interview with a famous Turkish journalist, saying that he has no intention to be involved in politics, in fact he was against politics.
Erdogan said that, "the same person is now working hard to take down the elected government in Turkey, and I see this as hypocrisy."
Last week, two pro-government dailies,Yeni Safak and Sabah, revealed that crypto phones, which are supposed to protect their users from eavesdropping -- also used by other Turkish officials such as Turkey's President Abdullah Gul, Army chief Necdet Ozel, and the country's top spy Hakan Fidan -- were bugged by what the Turkish government officials described as a "parallel state, 'a state within the state,' nestled within the judiciary and police force, whose members allegedly have links to Gulen.
"You cannot bug lines under any law," Erdogan said during his speech, "but they went too far, and we will get into their cave to catch them," he added.
The Gulen movement is active in education with private and charter schools in over 140 countries, along with schools and private tutoring centers in Turkey.
However, Turkey's parliament passed a bill to close down thousands of private tutoring centers on Friday, mostly run by the Hizmet movement.
Erdogan said during his speech: "You opened your schools in this country during our government."
But now, Turkey's prime minister has asked the Turkish people not to register at Gulen schools, saying that "public schools will be sufficient."
Gulen has been living in Pennsylvania, the United States, since 1999.
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