Gulen plotting earthquake to harm economy alleges Turkish mayor

Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek

The mayor of Turkish capital Ankara on Tuesday claimed US based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey accuses of masterminding last year’s failed coup attempt, is plotting an earthquake to harm Turkey’s economy.

Melih Gokcek went on Twitter to make the claim saying investigations needed to be carried out on a “seismic vessel” after a small earthquake hit the area surrounding Aegean coastal town Canakkale on Monday.

“No matter what they say, I’m still worried about the possibility of an artificial earthquake” the controversial figure wrote on Twitter, adding that he had prevented an earthquake last August by warning of it.

“Their plan was failed after the strategy was disclosed to the public at that time. But currently they are trying to originate an economic crisis with the help of the major earthquake.”

An ardent Erdogan supporter and polarising figure in Turkey, Gokcek frequently makes similar claims to his 3.7m followers on Twitter. Although some ridicule the long-time Ankara mayor, slamming his suggestions as conspiracy theories, others are quick to use his ideas to spin anti-Western rhetoric online and in mainstream media.

Critics have accused Gokcek of fear mongering by using the 1999 Istanbul earthquake, which killed around 17,000 people, to rally support for Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), of which Gokcek is a member.

Turkey blames the Fethullah Gulen Movement, which it calls the “Gulenist Terrorist Organisation” (FETO), for last year’s coup attempt in which more than 250 people were killed. An accusation the group’s influential leader Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, denies.

Turkey is situated on several major fault lines and suffers tremors and small earthquakes frequently.