U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen has denounced the arrest warrant issued in Turkey accusing him of masterminding the failed coup in Turkey last month.
"It is well-documented that the Turkish court system is without judicial independence, so this warrant is yet another example of President Recep Erdogan's drive for authoritarianism and away from democracy," Gulen said (in a statement) late Thursday.
"The issuance of an arrest warrant from a Turkish court changes nothing about my status or my views," Gulen said.
The Turkish government has said Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, masterminded the coup by renegade officers in the military and has called on the U.S. to extradite him to Turkey. Ankara, however, has not filed a formal extradition.
Gulen has denied any involvement or prior knowledge of the military coup attempt on July 15 and has condemned it.
WATCH: Gulen's lawyer Reid Weingarten on extradition process
Speaking to leaders of chambers of commerce in Ankara earlier Thursday, Erdogan said his government was “determined to totally cut off all business links of this organization, which has blood on its hands.”
He also said “every cent” that goes to the movement of Fethullah Gulen (FETO - Fetullah Terrorist Organization) is “a bullet placed in the barrel to be fired against this nation.”
More than 60,000 people in the military, judiciary, civil service and education have been detained, suspended or placed under investigation following the July 15 coup attempt, prompting fears that Erdogan is using the event to crack down on dissent.
More than 270 people, not including coup plotters, died and thousands were wounded as mutinous soldiers commandeered fighter jets, helicopters and tanks in the failed attempt to topple the government.