Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stepped up his fiery rhetoric against his ally-turned-nemesis, the Gulen movement, criticizing U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen as the leader of "neo-Ergenekon", the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
"We fought with Ergenekon and now we will fight with the neo-Ergenekon in Pennsylvania. They say that he [Gulen] lives in seclusion there. If you want seclusion, come to your country," Erdogan said in an election rally in the western town of Manisa on March 16.
The government had repeatedly accused the Gülen movement of orchestrating the corruption probes and leaked wiretaps, before launching a massive struggle to purge its sympathizers from the civil service, which they have dubbed "the parallel state."
Gulen is widely believed to have helped Erdogan by using a network of supporters in the judiciary and police to drive the Ergenekon coup plot trial forward. But the two men have since fallen out and the government now suggests the defendants may have been unjustly treated. With a key change in the country's anti-terrorism laws, most Ergenekon suspects have been released over the past few weeks.
"Did you hear that he said a loose woman was sent to a politician and it was reported to him? Are you a cleric or are you the leader of an intelligence organization? What are you? You're in recluse, but you're giving instructions in scenarios. You're writing in the international media, denigrating your country," Erdogan said, referring to a statement Gülen made late last year.
The prime minister has accused the Gulen movement of "espionage" because of the wiretapping of the phones belonging to the president and prime minister. He also claimed that the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) uses the same discourse as the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
"One side [the CHP and the MHP] practices Turkism [Turkish nationalism] while the other one [BDP] practices Kurdism [Kurdish nationalism]," Erdogan said.
After Manisa, Erdogan has spoken at another election rally in İzmir on March 16. Tens of thousands of AKP supporters greeted Prime Minister at Gündogdu Sq., as opposition figures claimed that the ruling party transported people from nearby cities to create the historic crowd in the Aegean city, which is considered as one of the main strongholds of CHP.
Police have taken precautions around the square, keeping thousands of protesters from marching towards Erdogan's rally.