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Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen denies link to Russian envoy killing

Members of a Turkish forces honour guard carry the Russian flag-draped coffin of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov who was assassinated Monday, toward a plane to be carried home, during a ceremony at the airport in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Dec, 20, 2016. Turkey and Russia are more committed than ever to advance peace efforts in Syria, the two countries' foreign ministers declared Tuesday, a day after the killing in an attack both countries described as an attempt to disrupt their improved ties. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel).
Members of a Turkish forces honour guard carry the Russian flag-draped coffin of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov who was assassinated Monday, toward a plane to be carried home, during a ceremony at the airport in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Dec, 20, 2016. Turkey and Russia are more committed than ever to advance peace efforts in Syria, the two countries' foreign ministers declared Tuesday, a day after the killing in an attack both countries described as an attempt to disrupt their improved ties. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel).

MOSCOW – A U.S.-based Muslim cleric on Thursday condemned the killing of Russia’s envoy to Turkey and rejected accusations that his movement was behind the attack.

Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot dead by an off-duty policeman in front of stunned onlookers at a photo exhibition in Ankara earlier this week. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has implicated Fethullah Gulen in the killing, saying the policeman had links to his movement.

READ MORE: Turkish official links Russian envoy shooter to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen

In a video address made available to The Associated Press, Gulen accused the Turkish government of blaming and defaming his movement and suggested the government would facilitate other assassinations and blame them on his followers.

WATCH: Body of Russian ambassador to Turkey arrive in Moscow

Click to play video: 'Body of Russian ambassador to Turkey arrive in Moscow'
Body of Russian ambassador to Turkey arrive in Moscow

Gulen said “it is not possible for them to convince the world of such accusations.”

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Russia flew a team of 18 investigators and foreign ministry officials to Turkey to participate in the investigation.

READ MORE: Russia doubts killer of ambassador acted alone

Foreign ministry officials and members of parliaments have gathered at the Russian foreign ministry’s headquarters for a farewell ceremony. Diplomats and officials laid flowers at the open casket with an honorary guard standing by.

“Those who raised a hand against Ambassador Karlov, who took his life will definitely fail in their attempts to stop Russia from co-operating with other countries including Turkey,” Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament.

WATCH: Russian, Turkish officials lay flowers for dead Russian ambassador

Click to play video: 'Russian, Turkish officials lay flowers for dead Russian ambassador'
Russian, Turkish officials lay flowers for dead Russian ambassador

President Vladimir Putin arrived at the end of the ceremony, laid flowers at the casket, offered condolences to the ambassador’s widow and left.

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READ MORE: Turkish President has ‘no doubts’ Russian envoy shooter linked to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen

Karlov’s casket was then carried out of the foreign ministry’s building and taken for a funeral service at Moscow’s main Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, said at the beginning of the service that the ambassador died a “martyr’s death.” Kirill and other clerics, all dressed in ceremonial white robes, took part in the service that is expected to last for at least an hour.

Karlov will be laid to rest in Moscow later Thursday.

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