Europe

Turkish ruling party purges US-based cleric's followers

  • A woman passes with her child by two cyclist as they stand by a giant Turkey flag at the Galata bridge in Istanbul, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. The Turkish government characterizes the movement of Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, as a terrorist organization. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

    A woman passes with her child by two cyclist as they stand by a giant Turkey flag at the Galata bridge in Istanbul, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. The Turkish government characterizes the movement of Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, as a terrorist organization. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)  (The Associated Press)

  • People walk on the 'Galata' bridge past giant Turkey flags, in Istanbul, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. The Turkish government characterizes the movement of Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, as a terrorist organization. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

    People walk on the 'Galata' bridge past giant Turkey flags, in Istanbul, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. The Turkish government characterizes the movement of Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, as a terrorist organization. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)  (The Associated Press)

  • A woman walks with a child at Taksim square in Istanbul, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. The Turkish government has launched a sweeping crackdown on the movement of Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, since the attempted coup, with nearly 70,000 people suspended or dismissed from jobs in the civil service, judiciary, education, health care, the military and the media.  (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

    A woman walks with a child at Taksim square in Istanbul, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. The Turkish government has launched a sweeping crackdown on the movement of Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, since the attempted coup, with nearly 70,000 people suspended or dismissed from jobs in the civil service, judiciary, education, health care, the military and the media. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)  (The Associated Press)

Turkey's state-run news agency says the ruling party has instructed its local branches and municipalities to purge themselves of followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by the government of being behind the country's failed July 15 coup.

Gulen has denied any responsibility for or prior knowledge of the attempted coup.

The Anadolu Agency says the Justice and Development Party, founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, issued a circular Friday asking members to "immediately start efforts to purge those linked to the (Gulen movement) or who gave support to the reprehensible coup." It also called on local branches to avoid "agitation and gossip" during the purges.

The government has branded Gulen's movement a terrorist organization and has launched a sweeping crackdown on its alleged followers since the attempted coup.