Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reiterated that the death penalty is not off the table for those suspected of plotting a coup against his government, in an interview with CNN broadcast Monday.
Erdogan, giving his first media interview since Friday’s dramatic coup attempt, also said his government would submit a written request for the extradition of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blames for the unrest, in the coming days.
“There is a clear crime of treason,” Erdogan, speaking through a translator, told CNN when asked about calls for the alleged plotters to face capital punishment.
“But of course, it will take a parliamentary decision for that to take action in the form of a constitutional measure,” he said, given that Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of its long-standing efforts to join the European Union.
“So the leaders will have to come together and discuss it. If they accept to discuss it, as the president, I will approve any decision to come out of the parliament.”
Turkey launched fresh raids and sacked almost 9,000 officials Monday in a relentless crackdown against suspected coup plotters, with Erdogan vowing to wipe out the “virus” of the putschists after Friday’s coup attempt, which left more than 300 dead.
But the United States and European Union have sternly warned him against excessive retribution and to respect the rule of law.
Erdogan has blamed the coup attempt on Gulen, his arch-enemy, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Gulen has denied any involvement.
The Turkish leader said his country’s formal request for extradition would soon be submitted.
“We have a mutual agreement of extradition of criminals,” he told the network.
“There should be reciprocity in these types of things.”