Turkish Justice Minister, Bekir Bozdag, said on Thursday that Turkey will soon seek the extradition of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen in connection with a “parallel state” probe.
Gulen, who is self-exiled in the US, has been accused of leading a terrorist organisation and plotting to overthrow the elected Turkish government.
The network led by Gulen is accused of wiretapping senior Turkish government figures, including the prime minister, National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) chief, Cabinet ministers as well as journalists through serving state officials.
Bozdag made the announcement at a meeting with Anadolu Agency’s Editor’s Desk in Ankara on Wednesday.
Noting that the Justice Ministry has already asked Interpol to issue a red notice for the self-exiled cleric, Bozdag said that extradition would be a better choice, since Gulen’s whereabouts are known.
"We think it would be more appropriate to start the extradition procedure for Fethullah Gulen. Because we know the country he lives in and his address,” he said.
While adding that they would soon submit an extradition request to the US Department of Justice, in line with an agreement on extradition and mutual legal assistance.
“We are hoping that the United States will respond favourably to our extradition request for a person who is involved in unlawful activities against Turkey. The decision is up to them. However, we expect them to give us a positive response.”
Bozdag also noted that it would be even better if Gulen came to Turkey himself to appear in court and respond to the allegations directed at him.
“He can freely come to Turkey. There is no law or regulation banning his entry. He can come and defend himself."
“Right now there are a lot of people who are being tried for crimes allegedly committed as part of the organisation headed by Fethullah Gulen."
“I think it would be the right thing for him to come here and respond to the allegations in person so that the truth may be revealed. I hereby invite him once more to Turkey," said Bozdag.