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Turkey urges extradition of Muslim cleric from US

October 28, 2016

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has pushed for the extradition of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen from the US. He is accused of instigating the attempted Turkish coup in July.

Türkei türkische Soldaten am Taksim Platz Proteste Menschen auf den Straßen
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/U.O.Simsek/

Bozdag met with US Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Wednesday and presented evidence against Pennsylvania-based Fethullah Gulen, who he has accused of being a terrorist. 

The minister said new evidence included confessions of alleged coup plotters saying they acted on Gulen's orders. He said Gulen had received secret recordings of conversations of a top Turkish official.

Bozdag warned of a fraying relationship if the US did not extradite Gulen. "If the process is prolonged or if a flaw happens in this process, this would mean a huge blow to the relationship," said Bozdag.

"We want the United States to understand us, because there is a growing anti-Americanism among Turkish people." Bozdag went so far as to call Gulen a terrorist, calling Gulen the Turkish equivalent of Osama bin Laden.

"Whatever Osama bin Laden means for the United States and for the American people, Fethullah Gulen means the same for Turkey and Turkish people," Bozdag said..

USA Fethullah Gülen bei einer Pressekonferenz
Muslim clerk Fethullah Gulen is accused by the Turkish government of fueling the failed turkish coup in July.Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Smith

Not in the plans

The US Justice Department would not comment on the evidence that Bozdag provided. The US has been reluctant to extradite Gulen, stressing that Turkey must first present sufficient evidence of his involvement in the coup attempt, which led to more than 270 deaths.

The US Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday, "in both countries extraditions are subject to the judicial process, and accordingly must meet the evidentiary standards of the requested country."

Fethullah Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in north east Pennsylvania since 1999. He has denied any involvement in the coup.

Thousands of people have been detained for alleged links to the coup and tens of thousands have been dismissed or suspended from government jobs.

kbd/jm (AP, Reuters)