Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused U.S.-based preacher, Fethullah Gulen of attempting to derail the 'solution process,' the government's one-year initiative to solve minority issues and end terrorism, Anadolu Agency reported.
"This person in Pennsylvania (Gulen) is waging assaults to prevent a solution to terrorism and stamp out brotherhood, peace and unity," Erdogan told a rally in Sanliurfa in Turkey's southeast.
Erdogan said Gulen was using opposition parties to target the government's efforts to fight terrorism. He added that Gulen's 'Hizmet' movement was blackmailing opposition leaders with audio and video tape leaks.
Earlier in the week, Erdogan suggested he might seek Gulen's extradition, calling him "the source of unrest in my country."
He said he had talked to U.S. President Barack Obama about Gulen, noting that Obama said he understood the 'message' on Gulen's activities. The White House later denied Erdogan's account of the U.S. president's remarks.
Erdogan, who is holding large-scale rallies around Turkey in his final push before the local elections on March 30, accuses Gulen of leading an illegal organization within the police and judiciary - popularly known as the 'parallel state' - which aims to topple the government. Gulen denies the claims.
Several Turkish dailies published documents late last month which showed that prosecutors - allegedly linked to the 'parallel state' - ordered eavesdropping that targeted over 7,000 people in politics, business, civil society, media and academia over a period of three years.
Turkey's 'solution process' began early last year with a ceasefire between the Turkish government and outlawed PKK terrorist organization. The government pledged democratic reforms to empower minorities, particularly the Kurdish minority, which is by far the largest forming 18 percent of the population.
In September last year, Erdogan announced a "democratization package" that brought broader political rights, education in mother tongue and tougher penalties for hate speech. The Parliament passed a part of the omnibus law last week before closing until after the local elections.