US wants substantial evidence on alleged coup mastermind

Ankara has been asking Washington to extradite Fethullah Gulen, who was allegedly behind the failed coup attempt on Friday, but the US is asking for evidence for grounds to extradite him.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Fethullah Gulen at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

The US has given a cold response to the Turkish government's repeated calls to hand over the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of being behind Friday’s failed military coup. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded the extradition of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen from the US in a meeting which was held just hours after the failed coup attempt.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to his supporters in front of his residence after the failed coup attempt.

 “I told you that these people were attempting a coup but you didn’t listen,” Erdogan called the crowd of supporters.

“If we are strategic partners, if we are model partners, then please comply with our request.”

“My call is to the US. Whoever you asked from us to give back to you as a terrorist we will give them. Now it is your turn to give us back this person who is on our terror list,” he added.

Fethullah Gulen leads the Gulen Movement which was recently declared a terrorist organisation by the government. 

Turkey and the US have both been signatories to an extradition treaty for more than three decades. The treaty was signed in 1979 but entered into force after its ratification on January 1, 1981.

Under the treaty, both Washington and Ankara have agreed to extradite anyone involved in criminal offences upon the request of any of the signatory parties.

Turkey has extradited a number of people wanted for criminal offences in the US in the last five years. But Turkey has never asked the US to extradite anyone before Gulen.  

What the Extradition Treaty says  

The contracting parties must surrender to each other persons who:

  • Are being prosecuted
  • Have been charged
  • Have been convicted
  • Are being sought for the enforcement of a judicially pronounced penalty

When the offense has been committed outside the territory of the requesting party, the requested party shall grant extradition if:

  • The laws of the requested party provide for the punishment
  • The offence has been committed by a national of the requesting party

Why is Gulen wanted in Turkey?

Erdogan accused Gulen of running a “parallel state” which exercises control over the police force and judiciary to seize power in Turkey and denouncing him as terrorist.

Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania September 24, 2013.

Right after the failed coup attempt, Turkish government officials warned the US on Saturday saying that Turkey would view the US as an enemy if the country refused to hand over Gulen.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also called on the US to "extradite this man in Pennsylvania to Turkey now.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.

In response to Turkey's demands, US State Secretary John Kerry told his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the phone on Saturday that “public insinuations or claims about any role by the United States in the failed coup attempt are utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations."

Kerry also said the US will provide assistance to Turkish authorities to investigate the failed coup attempt.

Speaking in Luxembourg, Kerry said that they had not yet received a formal extradition request for the exiled cleric.

“We haven't received any request with respect to Mr. Gulen,” he said.

“We fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr. Gulen. And obviously we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny. And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments about it appropriately.”

“I'm confident there will be some discussion about that,” Kerry added.

Turkey, US strategic ally

Turkey is a long-standing strategic ally of the US and Europe. It has been a major ally of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) since 1952.

US President Barack Obama hosts a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during the NATO Summit at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales. September 5, 2014.

Turkey’s geo-strategic significance arises from its position to connect the EU with Asia.

In recent years, Turkey has been a frontline member of the US-led coalition in fighting the terrorist groups like DAESH in Syria and Iraq.

#Turkey's #Erdogan suggests #Gulen extradition is condition of continued #alliance w/US: #NATO #allies

— (((Alan Tonelson))) (@AlanTonelson) July 16, 2016

Kerry said on Sunday the failed military coup did not interrupt the US fight against DAESH.

Turkey has allowed the United States to use an air base in Incirlik in the south of the country to launch attacks against the terrorist group.

The failed coup was seen an effort to destabilise Turkey that could have negative effects on its role in the fight against the terrorists.

TRTWorld and agencies