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American Ambassador to Turkey John Bass Denies U.S. Hand in Coup Attempt

Speculation that the United States supported an attempted coup in Turkey is "categorically untrue," the U.S. ambassador to the country said Monday.
Image: People demonstrate in front of the Republic Monument at the Taksim Square in Istanbul
People demonstrate in front of the Republic Monument in Istanbul's Taksim Square.MURAD SEZER / Reuters

The U.S. ambassador to Turkey denied any American role in an attempted coup there, saying Monday that speculation to that effect was "categorically untrue."

Tensions between the two countries have escalated since members of the Turkish military tried and failed to seize power on Friday. Turkey's Labor Minister Suleyman Soylu has gone as far to suggest that Washington was behind the plot.

"Some news reports — and, unfortunately, some public figures — have speculated that the United States in some way supported the coup attempt," Ambassador John Bass said in a statement Monday. "This is categorically untrue, and such speculation is harmful to the decades-long friendship between two great nations."

Related: Will Failed Coup Make Turkey's Strongman Even Stronger?

Central to the friction between Washington and Ankara is Fetullah Gulen, a cleric who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed for orchestrating the putsch.

Gulen denies the charges — even raising the possibility the coup attempt may have been staged, but Erdogan has demanded his extradition from the U.S..

Bass on Monday said that if Turkey to submit such a request "it will be considered under the terms of the U.S.-Turkey extradition agreement."

He also noted that he was aware of "false words, attributed to me, are currently being circulated on social media" — mostly by Gulen's supporters.

Such comments are an "absolute fabrication that appears designed to heighten tension between the United States and Turkey and undermine Turkey’s security," Bass added. It was not immediately clear what remarks Bass was referring to.