Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the expulsion of the American ambassador and several other diplomats, and claimed that hundreds of Americans were plotting against Turkey.
Mr. Erdogan accused the U.S. of not doing enough to protect American citizens, a reference to the Oct. 31 abortive coup in Turkey, when a group of Turkish military officers attempted to overthrow the government by force. The coup was foiled, and 239 people were killed in the ensuing purge of the Turkish military.
Following the coup, an American consulate official, a diplomat, and a U.S. diplomat of Turkish descent were fired. The spokesperson with the Turkish Embassy said they were not aware of any American who was fired.
However, Turkish media reports claim that several dozen more American citizens living in Turkey have been arrested for links to Mr. Erdogan’s former ally Fethullah Gulen, an American-based cleric accused of leading the coup attempt.
“Turkey has been an important ally,” Mr. Erdogan said. “But we must tell the truth about those who are using Turkish territory to launch terrorist attacks in Turkey.”
Mr. Erdogan claimed that the extradition of Gulen was in the works, but that the U.S. has yet to act.
In response, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: “Turkey must understand that actions they take to protect security interests for themselves alone cannot, we believe, justify such an unreasonable demand that they throw the rule of law out the window.”
Mr. Erdogan said he would launch a new investigation into 4,400 people who were detained in the wake of the coup and who allegedly supported Mr. Gulen.