Turkey increases pressure on U.S. for Gulen’s extradition

APTOPIX_Turkey_Military_Coup-d4af4-3601
Source: The Washington Post
Turkish leaders on Tuesday stepped up their calls for the United States to punish Fethullah Gulen, the reclusive cleric living in Pennsylvania whose organization is said to be behind the failed July 15 coup attempt that sought to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government.

Officials in Ankara insist that Gulen had a direct hand in the coup plot, a mutiny led by a faction in the military that led to about 290 deaths before it was quashed.

U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said he would consider an extradition request should Turkey submit “legitimate evidence [of Gulen’s involvement] that withstands scrutiny.”

His Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, said the United States needs to take Turkey’s concerns seriously.

“Turkish people are appalled at the US’ insistence in harboring him. We, as the Turkish government demand his return to face justice,” Cavusoglu wrote in an op-ed published on Al Jazeera’s website Tuesday. “His extradition to Turkey is the strongest expectation of the people of Turkey from the US.”

He added that what the Obama administration does next “may shape the future relations of the two key allies.”

Turkey has submitted legal documents to U.S. authorities concerning Gulen’s activities but says it will formally request his extradition after the country has finished investigating the defeated coup plotters.

“The files pertaining to their involvement in this coup attempt have not been sent yet,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told Britain’s Guardian newspaper on Tuesday, referring to Gulen and his organization. “They will be sent and will leave no doubt whatsoever as to their involvement in this.”

Reports in the Turkish media continue to shed light on Gulen’s supposed role in fomenting the coup attempt. Gen. Hulusi Akar, the country’s chief of staff, detailed in testimony leaked to the news media what happened while he was detained by military officers participating in the putsch.

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