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Bruno Kahl, the head of German intelligence (BND), told Der Spiegel the military coup of July 2016 “was probably a welcome pretext” for the Turkish government to unleash a sweeping crackdown on thousands of people suspected of having connections with Fethullah Gulen – a 75-year-old opposition cleric who Ankara says was the mastermind behind the failed putsch.
Kahl stressed that there was no evidence that the Gulen movement was involved in the July plot, saying, “Turkey tried to convince us at every level, but so far they didn’t succeed.”
Likewise, he dismissed Turkey’s claims that Gulen’s movement is an Islamist or even terrorist network: “The Gulenist movement is a civic association whose aim is to provide religious and secular education.”
The chief of intelligence did, however, rule out the idea that the coup was engineered by the Turkish government itself.