ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's ruling AK Party gave a free hand for years to a religious movement led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen it now accuses of orchestrating a failed military coup, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Thursday.
Gulen, an ally-turned-arch-enemy of President Tayyip Erdogan, denies any involvement in last Friday's abortive coup. He still has large numbers of supporters in Turkey, including in the judiciary, police and armed forces.
"As soon as President Tayyip Erdogan saw the threat (posed by Gulen's supporters) he gave the necessary response. We had thought they were doing something good for the country," Simsek told reporters in unusually candid comments.
Simsek also said more than 1,000 people in state institutions were still on the run nearly a week after the coup, without elaborating.
(This story corrects to show that more than 1,000 people from state institutions, not the military, are on the run)
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Gareth Jones and David Dolan)