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Azerbaijan Shuts Down TV Station Over Interview With Turkish Cleric Gulen

U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen

Authorities in Azerbaijan have closed an independent television station that was planning to air an interview with Fethullah Gulen, the Muslim cleric whom Turkey accuses of being behind a failed coup attempt earlier this month.

Azerbaijan and Turkey have close ties and Ankara has backed Baku in a conflict with Armenian-backed separatists over its breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The country's court of appeal revoked the license of the ANS television station based on a lawsuit filed by the National Television and Radio Council (NTRC). The law allows authorities to close media deemed to be broadcasting extremists.

"ANS took a position that contradicted the strategic partnership between the Azeri and Turkish people by offering support to Fethullah Gulen and his supporters, who organized the bloody events that led to multiple deaths," the NTRC said in a statement on July 29.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his former ally Gulen, who has a wide following in Turkey, masterminded the July 15 coup attempt.

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, denies the charges.

Based on reporting by Reuters