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Turkey asks Germany for extradition of top coup suspect

Ankara has formally requested that Berlin arrest and extradite a man suspected of playing a major role in last year's failed coup. The request follows reports suggesting the theology lecturer was spotted in Germany.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Turkey sent a diplomatic note to Germany, demanding the extradition of fugitive Adil Oksuz.

Cavusoglu told broadcaster TRT Haber that Ankara sent the note following reports that Oksuz was seen in Germany.

"If this person is there, we asked that he be located, taken into custody and returned to Turkey," the minister said.

Oksuz, a theology academic, is accused of being a follower of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara says was behind last year's failed coup attempt.

Turkish media reported that Oksuz has been seen in the German cities of Frankfurt and Ulm and was granted a temporary residence permit in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg.

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The Turkish government says that Oksuz was a "civilian imam" for air force personnel who bombed parliament last July as part of efforts to topple the government.

Oksuz was arrested near Akinci air base once the coup bid collapsed, but was released two days later by an alleged Gulenist judge. He has been on the run ever since and is one of Turkey's most wanted fugitives.

Footage released after the failed coup showed Oksuz and his alleged assistant, businessman Kemal Batmaz, arriving at the main airport in Istanbul two days before the attempted putsch.

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Turkish authorities say the men were returning from a trip to the US where they allegedly met with Gulen, who denies involvement and has condemned the attempted putsch. He has been living in Pennsylvania in self-imposed exile since 1999.

Batmaz remains in detention following his arrest immediately following the failed coup and is awaiting trial

Over 50,000 people have been detained in a crackdown by Turkish authorities, with journalists and opposition figures targeted as well.

Read more: Turkey seeks arrest of dozens of journalists

The scale of the crackdown has soured relations between Turkey and Germany. Some of Turkey's allies have voiced concern that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be using the coup as a way to suppress dissent.

Turkey also accuses Berlin of harboring suspects wanted for alleged ties to the coup as well as Kurdish militants.

rs/kms (AP, Reuters)

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