Azerbaijan shuts down TV channel over Gulen interview

Azerbaijan on Tuesday shut down a private television channel over plans to broadcast an interview with Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara accuses of being behind the failed coup in Turkey, AFP reports.

Baku is an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has furiously pointed blame at his arch-enemy Gulen for the weekend’s botched military takeover. The US-based preacher denies any involvement.

Azerbaijan’s National Television and Radio Council said in a statement that it has “ordered temporary suspension of broadcasting by the ANS TV channel in order to avoid provocations aimed at damaging the strategic partnership between Turkey and Azerbaijan and to prevent obvious promotion of terrorism.”

Erdogan wants Washington to extradite Gulen to Turkey, but US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that Ankara must produce evidence to support the extradition request.

The reclusive Muslim cleric lives in self-imposed exile in a mountain town in Pennsylvania. His Hizmet movement has a powerful presence in Turkish society, including the media, police and judiciary.

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