US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen has denied giving orders to police and prosecutors in a corruption inquiry rocking the government, saying his worldwide movement of followers was being used as a scapegoat to divert attention.
In his first TV interview in 16 years, the influential preacher told the BBC that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to have been misled by a "circle of royals," a reference to the advisors who surrounded Ottoman sultans.
The corruption scandal, which has led to three cabinet resignations and seen businessmen close to Erdogan detained, has become one of the biggest threats to the prime minister's 11-year rule, spiraling into an open feud with Gulen, whose followers say they number in the millions.
Erdogan has portrayed the corruption inquiry as an attempted judicial coup by a "parallel state," a veiled reference to Gulen's Hizmet ("Service") movement, which exerts strong if covert influence in the police and judiciary. (Reuters)