ANKARA, Turkey — A Turkish lawyer has filed a criminal complaint against two top U.S. generals Tuesday, accusing them of involvement in the July 15 coup attempt by members of the Turkish military.
The complaint, which has to be accepted by Turkish prosecutors before any action is taken, was filed Tuesday and names Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, and U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper. It The complaint alleges that the American officials conspired with a faction of the Turkish military at Turkey's Incirlik Air Base, a key hub for U.S. military air operations against the that conduct daily air strikes on Islamic State group targets in nearby Iraq and Syria.
Turkish fighter jets and refueling tankers used in the coup attempt came from Incirlik, according to the complaint.
It The complaint comes just several days after Votel issued an unusual statement denying the conspiracy theories that were circulated in Turkish media. "Any reporting that I had anything to do with the recent unsuccessful coup attempt in Turkey is unfortunate and completely inaccurate," Votel said in a July 29 statement issued by U.S. Central Command.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a widespread crackdown that has included the arrest of top Turkish military officials and thousands of civilians. He Erdogan recently told Votel to "know your place" after Votel expressed concern that the post-coup crackdown may affect the fight against ISIS Islamic State militants.
Erdogan once more blasted unnamed Western countries Tuesday for what he said was support for the attempted coupon that left more than 270 people dead.
"The West is supporting terrorism and taking sides with coups," Erdogan said, adding that forces unhappy with Turkey's rise as a regional power were behind the coup. "They have actors inside [Turkey] but the scenario of this coup was written abroad," he said during a speech at an event for foreign investors in Ankara.
Turkey's government says the coup was instigated by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Turkey has demanded his extradition, but Washington has asked for evidence of the cleric's involvement.
Erdogan complained about the U.S. request: "We did not request documents for terrorists that you wanted returned."
The government has launched a sweeping crackdown on Gulen's movement, which it characterizes as a terrorist organization. Nearly 70,000 people have been suspended from their jobs on suspicion of being involved in the movement, which runs schools, charities and businesses internationally.
Erdogan has singled out Germany for criticism, after a court there ruled against allowing him to appear on a video link to address a crowd of about 30,000 supporters and anti-coup demonstrators in Cologne over the weekend.
The president said Turkey had sent Germany more than 4,000 files on what he said were wanted terrorists, but Germany did nothing. However, he said, courts quickly decided against him speaking at the rally.
Germany's Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment, but German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Monday defended the court's decision as "absolutely OK and also lawful."
Erdogan also repeated a complaint that no foreign leader had visited Turkey after the failed coup, while France and Belgium received visits in solidarity after terror attacks there.
"Those we considered friends are siding with coup-plotters and terrorists," the president said.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an event for foreign investors on Aug. 2, 2016, in Ankara, Turkey.
Photo Credit: Kayhan Ozer/AP
When it was allied with Erdogan's government in the past, the Gulen movement was believed to have been behind a series of crackdowns on pro-secular figures as well as military officers accused at the time of plotting a coup. Hundreds were jailed after trials in which evidence was later found to have been fabricated. Many convictions have been overturned.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag sent a second document to the United States Tuesday seeking Gulen's arrest, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. "They requested certain information following our first letter; we provided answers to the question 'why is it urgent?'"
He added that Turkey had intelligence indicating Gulen might leave for a third country. If he does, Bozdag said, it would only be with the full knowledge of U.S. authorities.
Part of the crackdown against Gulen's network has focused on reforming the military, bringing it increasingly under civilian command. About 18,000 people have been detained or arrested, most of them from the military, and authorities have said the purge will continue.
The government has already decreed sweeping changes to the military, including giving the president and prime minister the power to issue direct orders to the force commanders.
"These arrangements won't weaken the Turkish Armed Forces, on the contrary they will strengthen them and prepare them to face all kinds of threats," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in an address to his ruling party legislators. "The armed forces will focus their energies on their fundamental duty."
Several countries and rights organizations have expressed concern over the scope of the crackdown, and have urged restraint.
But Erdogan insisted the purges of the civil service, military and other sectors were necessary to rout out those responsible for the coup.
"If we show pity to these murderers, to these coup plotters, we will end up in a pitiful state," he said.
On Tuesday, the Turkish Football federation said it had sacked 94 people, including a number of referees. It said the action was taken as a "necessity," without saying whether those dismissed were suspected of links to the Gulen movement.
Separately, authorities issued 98 new detention warrants, including for military doctors, a senior government official said, on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Becatoros reported from Istanbul. Military Times Pentagon Bureau Chief Andrew Tilghman contributed to this report.