Δευτέρα, 17 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

Trump Administration Considers Extraditing Gulen to Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Reuters)
Ankara - Saeed Abdul Razek
Turkey has revealed that the US administration is considering extraditing cleric Fethullah Gulen for his alleged role in an attempted coup in Turkey two years ago.

US President Donald Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Washington was "working on" the extradition, announced Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The cleric has been living in a gated compound in eastern Pennsylvania after leaving Turkey in 1999. Erdogan has held Gulen responsible for the deadly attempted coup against him in 2016, a charge Gulen has denied.

Cavusoglu pointed out that everyone focused on the issue of American pastor Andrew Brunson, whom he claimed was a CIA agent. He was tried in Turkey on charges of supporting terrorist organizations, including the Gulen movement and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Brunson was released and allowed to leave Turkey on October 12.

Cavusoglu added, however, that there are greater issues within the framework of Turkish-US relations, especially Washington's support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey regards as an extension of the PKK in Syria.

The minister also claimed the FBI had evidence that Gulen's organization, known as FETO, “had been violating US laws, including tax fraud, visa fraud and also some other illegal activities.”

He told a conference in Qatar that Ankara had also requested the extradition of more than 80 Gulen followers living in the United States.

“Our expectation is very clear,” Cavusoglu said, adding that “we have bilateral agreements and international law is there.”

“Last time we met in Buenos Aires, President Trump told President Erdogan that they have been working on that,” he indicated, “but we need to see concrete steps because it has been already two years, almost three years.”

Turkey has repeatedly requested that Gulen be handed over, or that he be prosecuted in the United States. But, Washington refused and under former President Barack Obama, the administration said information Turkey has handed it supporting Ankara's claim Gulen orchestrated the coup has not been sufficient to extradite him.

Last week, Erdogan said Turkey would launch new initiatives abroad to target sources of funding for Gulen supporters.

In related news, Erdogan said Sunday that Ankara intended to buy 120 US-made F-35 fighter jets amid speculations that the transfer might be halted.

“We will buy 120 F-35 aircraft produced by the United States. Some of the components for the aircraft will be produced in Turkey,” he said at a rally in Istanbul.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters on Saturday on the sidelines of the Doha Forum that Ankara had doubts that the United States may cancel the deliveries of its F-35 fighters to Turkey if the latter buys the Russian air defense system S-400.

"We are not just buyers, we are part of the [F-35 development] project...So, it is not that easy to deny Turkey the supply of these jets", he said. 
 
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