Who is the 75-year-old blamed for Turkey's deadly coup?

Fethullah Gullen lives in self-imposed exile in the US Credit: Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating Friday's deadly coup to overthrow his government.

Gulen, a 75-year-old cleric who lives in America, staunchly denies being involved in the plot which so far has left over 265 people dead.

So who is he, and why is President Erdogan so against him?

  • A bitter rivalry with Recep Tayyip Erdogan

President Erdogan blames Fethullah Gulen for the coup Credit: Reuters

Friday's coup exposes the divide between Turkey's secular and Islamist societies - with Gulen representing the former and President Erdogan's ruling AKP party the latter.

Until 2013, Gulen was an ally of Erdogan, when their relationship broke down over a corruption scandal. Gulen has since been on Turkey's most-wanted terrorist list.

Gulen a cleric, now lives abroad, and leads a popular movement called Hizmet.

Hizmet is a global initiative, described by the New York Times as "a moderate, pro-Western brand of Sunni Islam that appeals to many well-educated and professional Turks".

It has founded schools, tutoring centres, hospitals and relief agencies.

Supporters describe Gulen as a moderate Muslim cleric who advocates interfaith dialogue.

Gulen went into self-imposed exile in the United States in 1999 and now lives in Pennsyvlania.

  • President Erdogan lays finger at Gulen's door

Supporters in Istanbul show support for the Turkish government Credit: Reuters

President Erdogan has levelled the finger of blame for Friday's coup squarely at Gulen.

In a bid to get him extradited to Turkey President Erdogan said: "I call on the United States and President Barack Obama. Dear Mr. President, I told you this before.

Either arrest Fethullah Gulen or return him to Turkey. You didn't listen. I call on you again, after there was a coup attempt.

Extradite this man in Pennsylvania to Turkey! If we are strategic partners or model partners, do what is necessary,"

Gulen denies any connection to the coup attempt and has suggested the whole thing may have been staged.

  • America open to extraditing Gulen

John Kerry said the US invites evidence to be put forward Credit: Reuters

The US has said it is willing to help Turkey investigate who is behind the coup, but will only act against Gullen if there was evidence against him.