Turkey denies offering money for Gulen kidnap
Turkey has dismissed reports in US media alleging that Turkish officials had proposed paying several million dollars to former US national security adviser Michael Flynn for seizing Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen (top photo) and handing him over to Ankara.
"All allegations that Turkey would resort to means external to the rule of law for [Gulen's] extradition are utterly false, ludicrous and groundless," Turkey's embassy in Washington said on Twitter on Saturday.
The Turkish government accuses Gulen, who has lived in the US for nearly 20 years, of having masterminded a failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016. Some 250 people were killed in the attempted coup, which has been followed by a draconian crackdown on alleged dissidents in which tens of thousands have been jailed.
Ankara has often requested that the US extradite Gulen, but the request has so far always been denied.
Read more: Germany: Turkey made 81 extradition requests since failed coup
The statement from the embassy came in response to a report in the Wall Street Journal claiming that US Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating whether Flynn and his son had been offered up to $15 million (€12.9 million) for seizing Gulen and delivering him into the hands of Turkish authorities.
Broadcaster NBC also reported that Mueller's team was looking into whether Flynn held a meeting with Turkish officials in December 2016 where a secret payout for Flynn to fulfill a wish list from Ankara was discussed.
Both reports said the discussions had included plans for flying Gulen by private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali.
The Journal said that there were no indications that any payments had been made, however.
Flynn's lawyers have described the allegations as "outrageous" and "false."
Flynn ended up serving briefly as national security adviser to Trump but was forced to resign after just 24 days when indications emerged that he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.
Mueller is also leading an investigation into possible collusion between members of Trump's campaign team and Russia during last year's election.
tj/rc (Reuters, AFP)