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$780k bounty on CIA & Pentagon ex-officials: Turkish businessman joins state hunt

$780k bounty on CIA & Pentagon ex-officials: Turkish businessman joins state hunt
An anonymous businessman in Turkey has promised a 3 million lira ($780,000) reward to anyone who facilitates the arrest of American former military and intelligence officials. The man has called them "traitors wanting to interfere" in Ankara's politics.

The bounty for information that leads to the arrest of a former top CIA official, Graham Fuller, and a former Pentagon official, Michael Rubin, was announced last week by a lawyer for the Turkish businessman, Turkey's Cumhuriyet newspaper reported. The sponsor of the manhunt, only identified as "a person in love with his country, flag and nation," believes the two US citizens "attacked" Turkey and stood by "treacherous gangs" during the failed coup last year.

The prosecutor's office in Istanbul has already issued arrest warrants for both Rubin and Fuller over their alleged roles in the attempted regime change in Turkey. A spokesperson for the US State Department has said that officials have "seen the reports" on the Turkish bounty, the Washington Free Beacon reported this week.

READ MORE: ‘We don’t need you’: Erdogan accuses Washington of ‘sacrificing’ relations with Turkey

According to the US media, Rubin "has been in constant conflict" with President Erdogan, who personally filed a lawsuit against the former Pentagon official. The two US citizens have been vocal critics of Erdogan, the US media said, citing officials, but called allegations of their involvement in the failed coup "absurd."

"The State Department's silence in the wake of Turkey putting a bounty on two Americans – both of whom were government officials – sends a horrible signal that encourages Turkey," Rubin told the Free Beacon. "All it takes is one crazy who equates silence with a green light and things can get bad fast," he added.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey since the failed military coup in July 2016. A major crackdown by President Erdogan and his government also affected foreign citizens, who Ankara labeled as supporters of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, named as a mastermind behind the attempted regime change. US embassy workers were among those arrested in Turkey, with such developments having led to a diplomatic standoff involving mutual suspension of visas between the two NATO allies.

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