Turkey seeks arrest of ex-CIA officer in coup attempt probe

Ankara: In a move that can further strain Turkey-US ties, prosecutors here are seeking the arrest of a former CIA officer in connection with a probe into last year’s coup attempt, state-run Anadolu Agency says.

They issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Graham Fuller, a former vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council, whom they suspect of having links with some people accused of participating in the failed coup that left over 200 dead on July 15.

A Turkish official, who did not want to be named because he is not authorised to talk to media, told the news agency that the warrant was issued on charges of violating the Turkish constitution, attempting to overturn the government, and interfering in the government’s duties and espionage.

Turkish government blames a US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, for masterminding the coup attempt. Gulen has repeatedly denied this and condemned the incident.

Turkish officials suspect Fuller helped Gulen in getting permanent US residency.

Ties between the US and Turkey became strained hours after the coup with unconfirmed reports saying Russian intelligence alerted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the plot and helped him escape. A furious Erdogan demanded the extradition of Gulen. The US refused saying Turkey should provide sufficient proof for that.

Erdogan hit back by arresting about 50,000 citizens whom he suspected as Gulen’s supporters. Businesses ‘connected’ to Gulen were shut. About 150,000 people lost jobs in public and private sector.