Turkish FM: US should not delay Gulen's extradition

Tue 16 May 2017 10:52 GMT | 14:52 Local Time

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The United States should not delay Turkey’s extradition request for Fetullah Gulen, "the Pennsylvania cleric" considered by Ankara the mastermind of July 15 failed coup, Turkish foreign minister said.

According to Anadolu Agency, writing for the American news magazine Foreign Policy, Mevlut Cavusoglu said: "It is clear to the government of Turkey that the Pennsylvania cleric is a coup plotter. Donald Trump should honor our request to bring him to justice."

According to the Turkish government, the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 2016, which left 249 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Underlining Turkey's determination to "bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice," Cavusoglu said Gulen and FETO "represent a grave and imminent threat to Turkey’s national security and constitutional order".

"Yet, today, the hydra-like Gulenist network is present in more than 160 countries. With its nerve center in Pennsylvania, its tentacles reach far and wide, exploiting poverty, fear, democratic deficits, and corruption," he said.

Cavusoglu noted that Gulen and his close circle "remain untouched" in the U.S., and continued to run schools and profit from "shady business transactions" in the country.

"They spread their propaganda from their safe haven in Pennsylvania — even as they are funded from federal, state, and local budgets through running an extensive network of charter schools.

"Turkish Gulenists immigrate to the United States to work in the schools, and are even invited to Congress to lecture U.S. policymakers on Turkey and Turkish-U.S. relations," he said, adding “This is happening because Fetullah Gulen remains free" although the legal groundwork for Gulen’s extradition -- the Turkey-U.S. extradition agreement signed in 1979 -- was already in place.

Recalling Ankara's formal request for Gulen's extradition, and provisional arrest, which was submitted to U.S. authorities in the aftermath of the coup attempt along with "fifty-one files of evidence," Cavusoglu said the U.S. government was considering Ankara's request, "but time is passing".

"For victims of FETO, justice delayed is justice denied. The Turkish people want Gulen to answer essential questions under oath, such as the source of his wealth, the financing of his network, his ties to former police officers who conspired to assassinate journalists, and his links with the coup plotters," he said.

"Fetullah Gulen, who was declared by his cult as the 'Imam of the Universe,' has attempted to destroy democracy in Turkey.

"The people of Turkey expect the U.S. authorities to take effective legal measures against this threat to our security and democracy, as an ally should," Cavusoglu concluded.

Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

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