A court in Turkey issued a formal warrant Thursday for the arrest of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the government accuses of being behind the failed July 15 coup that left more than 270 people dead, the AP reports. The government says Gulen, a former ally of President Erdogan who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, masterminded the failed coup attempt by renegade officers in Turkey's military and wants him extradited to Turkey. Gulen has denied involvement or prior knowledge of the coup attempt. Turkey has not yet made a formal extradition request, but the arrest warrant could be the prelude. The US has asked for evidence of the cleric's involvement.
The state-run Anadolu news agency says the court issued the warrant over a number of accusations, including an "attempt to eliminate the government of the Turkish Republic or to prevent it from carrying out its duties." More specifically, Anadolu says the court based the arrest warrant on accusations the coup plotters tried to assassinate Erdogan, kidnapped his Chief of Staff and other military officers, bombed parliament, and killed police and civilians. It is not the first time an arrest warrant has been issued for Gulen, who broke ranks publicly with Erdogan in 2013. In December 2014, a court issued a warrant for him on accusations of running an armed group.