US had no prior knowledge or indication of coup attempt: Ambassador Bass
ANKARAThe United States had no prior knowledge or indication about the July 15 failed coup attempt, according to the U.S. envoy to Ankara, who described allegations that Washington was in cooperation with the plotters to overthrow the Turkish government “outrageous.”
“The first we knew about the coup [attempt], or the plans around it, frankly, was at the moment when I, and my colleagues around town, first saw the aircraft making those low-level passes over downtown, and when the helicopter gunships opened fire on the various facilities around town. We had no prior knowledge or indications that something was about to happen, and we certainly didn’t – for a period of time we didn’t know what was happening,” Ambassador John Bass told CNN Türk in an interview late July 19, describing the situation in the capital Ankara during the initial stages of the coup attempt.
Recalling that Washington quickly rejected and condemned the illegal attempt to overthrow the democratically-elected Turkish government, Bass added that he found it disturbing “that some of the people [were] commenting about the alleged U.S. role” in the coup attempt.
“Well, I find the allegation [about U.S. involvement] outrageous and, again, completely unsupported by any facts. And, you know, let me say it again – the United States had no prior knowledge, did not direct, did not support [this attempted coup]. And, frankly, had we had prior knowledge, we would neither have supported it, or done anything other than to bring that information to the awareness of the democratically-elected, legitimate government of Turkey,” he stressed.
‘US does not work with Gülen’
Speaking about Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of masterminding the coup attempt by Turkish officials, Bass said, “Let me state explicitly – the United States has – the United States government has no direct involvement with, direction, consultation – we don’t work with Fethullah Gülen or his organization.”
On Turkey’s request for the extradition of the self-exiled cleric in Pennsylvania, the ambassador assured that the U.S. Justice Department would surely act appropriately and accordingly if Turkey submitted a strong case against Gülen.
“Now, clearly as a resident here in Turkey, Friday night’s actions, and the apparent involvement of a large number of his [Gülen] supporters, is a compelling and grave threat to the security of this country, [one] that bears the full seriousness of the law being applied to investigate it, and bring those responsible to justice. But we believe that it’s also important that that occur, whether it’s here in Turkey or the United States, through due process under the rule of law, and in full respect of democratic institutions, including the judiciary,” he said.