One of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s allies has put out a bounty of nearly $800,000 (U.S.) on the heads of former U.S. intelligence officials.
This is in an attempt by the Turkish government to “threaten and intimidate” the intelligence officials, whom Turkey believes are trying to undermine Erdogan, The Washington Free Beacon exclusively reported.
Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for former Pentagon official Michael Rubin and former top CIA official Graham Fuller.
The bounty – 3 million Turkish lira, equivalent to nearly $800,000 U.S. dollars – is for”what Erdogan’s allies claim is [the intelligence officials’] role in a 2016 failed coup that nearly toppled Erdogan’s ruling government,” The Washington Free Beacon reported.
The deadly coup took place in July 2016, when a section of the Turkish military launched an operation to take down the government and remove Erdogan from office. The attempted overtake was met by thousands of citizens who opposed the coup; they defeated the uprising and the Turkish government declared victory – but at a cost: 241 people died and 2,194 other people were injured.
“Both Rubin and Fuller have been vocal critics of Erdogan’s, often publicly highlighting his widespread corruption. Rubin, in particular, has been in constant conflict with Erdogan, who once filed a lawsuit against the former Pentagon official in a bid to silence him,” according to the report in Washington Free Beacon.
The Free Beacon also reported:
Current and former U.S. officials who spoke to the Free Beacon about the situation called allegations that Rubin and Fuller played any role in the coup attempt “absurd,” and said the bounty is part of a larger effort by Erdogan to silence dissent against his government across the globe.
Some also criticized the State Department for doing very little to combat Turkey’s threats on former American officials.
Erdogan’s government has threatened and intimidated several prominent Americans in recent years and is currently holding hostage U.S. citizens who his government claims played a role in the failed 2016 coup.
A lawyer representing the anonymous businessman who put up the cash for the bounty called Rubin and Fuller “traitors wanting to interfere” with Erdogan’s government, according to regional reports, which only described the businessman as “a person in love with his country, flag, and nation.”
When asked about the bounty, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department said officials have “seen the reports.”
“The notion that current or former employees of the United States Government were involved in the failed coup is absurd,” the official said.
Asked to comment on possible security concerns over Rubin and Fuller, the State Department would not provide further information.