In his first interview since announcing a state of emergency, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan tells Reuters how he learned of the coup attempt against his government and what took place aboard his plane as the drama unfolded. Rough Cut - Subtitled (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - SUBTITLED (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: In an interview with Reuters, the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan recounted on Thursday (July 21) how the events unfolded on the night of a failed coup attempt in an interview with Reuters. Rebel soldiers used tanks, attack helicopters and fighter jets to try to topple Erdogan on Friday night (July 15), strafing parliament and the intelligence headquarters in Ankara while seizing a bridge and surrounding the airport in Istanbul. Erdogan, who was vacationing at the holiday resort of Marmaris with his family, told Reuters he heard the news from his brother-in-law. "He was telling me that soldiers were actually cutting off streets, and they were not allowing cars to proceed to take to the bridge. When I got the news, initially I did not believe that this was happening and I called the head of national security, the head of national intelligence, I could not reach him. I called the chief of staff of the armed forces, I could not reach him, they were not in a position to be able to answer their phone," Erdogan said, speaking at his palace in Ankara. Turkish forces loyal to Erdogan crushed the coup attempt after crowds answered his call to take to the streets in support of the government and dozens of rebels abandoned their tanks. "I invited the nation to the streets, to the squares of the cities, and simultaneously of course I was trying to assess and gauge the reactions of the people across Turkey," he said, adding he and his family skipped death on the night of the coup attempt as the plane carrying them was trying to touch down on Ataturk airport. Erdogan accuses Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic U.S.-based cleric, of masterminding the plot against him. In a crackdown on his suspected followers, more than 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended, detained or placed under investigation. Western countries are worried about instability and human rights in the country of 80 million. Erdogan's comments to Reuters in an interview - his first since announcing a state of emergency late on Wednesday (July 20) - came as Turkey sought to assure its citizens and the outside world that the government was not turning its back on democracy and returning to the harsh repression of past regimes.