ANKARA - Turkey lashed out Sunday after Germany's intelligence chief said he was unconvinced by Turkish assertions US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen was behind the failed coup of July 15.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Europe was seeking to "whitewash" Gulen's group, while Defence Minister Fikri Isik said the comments raised questions about whether Berlin itself was involved in the putsch.
In an interview with Der Spiegel published on Saturday, Germany's foreign intelligence chief Bruno Kahl said Ankara had repeatedly tried to convince Berlin that Gulen was behind the coup "but they have not succeeded".
Turkey accuses Gulen of heading a group called the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO) which masterminded the coup with the aim of ousting Erdogan from power.
"This is an operation to whitewash FETO in Europe," Kalin told CNN-Turk television of Kahl's claims.
And Isik told Kanal 7 television that Kahl's remarks were a "most unfortunate statement".
Some Turkish officials mooted the idea that Western powers could have been involved in the coup and Isik suggested Kahl's comment would raise questions about Germany's role.
"The fact that the head of German intelligence made such a statement will increase doubts about Germany and give rise to the question 'was German intelligence behind the coup?'" he said.
Isik said German politicians must address the matter or risk questions arising over Berlin's possible role in the coup.
Following the putsch, Ankara launched an unprecedented purge of alleged Gulen supporters, with some 43,000 people jailed and awaiting, or on, trial.
Kahl said that the coup was launched by "a part of the military" who expected trouble from government purge which was already under way beforehand.
Tensions are already running high between Berlin and Ankara after German authorities refused to allow some Turkish ministers to campaign in the country for a "yes" vote ahead of the April 16 referendum on handing Erdogan an executive presidency.