ANKARA (Hurriyet Daily News)—Turkey has asked the United States to immediately detain and extradite Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who lives in rural Pennsylvania and is accused of orchestrating the failed July 15 coup attempt.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on July 19 that his government had sent four files to the United States.
“We have sent four dossiers to the United States for the extradition of the terrorist chief. We will present them with even more evidence than they want,” Yıldırım vowed at a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Ankara has also applied to the U.S. Justice Ministry for the arrest of Gülen before his extradition, private broadcaster CNNTürk reported.
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said the files sent to the U.S. did not include charges about the July 15 coup attempt, as the investigation is still ongoing.
“Our ministry has delivered the files both to the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry to be delivered to the U.S.,” Bozdağ told reporters.
“They were also transmitted electronically to the U.S. Justice Ministry,” he added.
Bozdağ said the extradition request related to two ongoing cases at Istanbul courts, case in Ankara and one case in Bursa, all of which ruled for the arrest of Gülen, accused of being “the leader of an armed terrorist organization” and “conspiring to overthrow the government.”
Gülen had been a close ally of the government until recently, and has lived in the United States since 1999.
Yıldırım called on the U.S. to “stop protecting that traitor.”
“We have no doubt or hesitation over the origin [of the coup]. It is crystal clear. We know who staged and who ran it,” he said, referring to the “parallel terrorist organization” Turkey.
The “parallel structure” is the term used by the Turkish government for followers of Gülen, who are accused of infiltrating state institutions including the police department, the judiciary and the military under direct orders from the cleric.
“We have more than enough evidence, more than you could ask for, on Gülen. There is no need to prove the coup attempt; all evidence shows that the coup attempt was organized on his will and orders,” Yıldırım also said.
The Turkish government has wanted the extradition of Gülen for over two years, but this is the first time a formal request has been made on an issue that has strained Turkish-U.S. ties.
Secretary of State John Kerry on July 18 said the U.S. had not received a formal request for extradition and reminded Turkish officials that any request must meet a specific set of standards, including specific evidence of wrongdoing by Gülen.
Yıldırım had suggested on July 18 that Turkey may “question its friendship” with Washington if the two sides cannot agree on Gülen.
“Even questioning our friendship may be brought to the agenda here. But our Justice Ministry is conducting the necessary work,” Yıldırım said when asked about the extradition process.