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.