US Would Consider Extradition Request for Exiled Cleric Fethullah Gülen

obbThe Obama administration would entertain an extradition request for the U.S.-based cleric that Turkey’s president is blaming for a failed coup attempt, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday.

In a televised speech, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States should extradite Fethullah Gülen. Erdoğan said Turkey had never turned back any extradition request for “terrorists” by the United States and stressed Turkey’s joint role with the U.S. in fighting terrorism. “I say if we are strategic partners then you should bring about our request,” he said.

Visiting Luxembourg, Kerry said Turkey would have to prove the wrongdoing of Gülen, who left Turkey in 1999.

Gülen has harshly condemned the attempted coup attempt by military officers that resulted in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left dozens dead. But Erdoğan’s government is blaming the chaos on the cleric, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania.

Erdoğan has long accused Gülen, a former ally, of trying to overthrow the government. Washington has never found any evidence particularly compelling previously.

“We fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr. Gülen,” Kerry told reporters. “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.”

A Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, said Turkey “has been preparing a formal application with detailed information about Gülen’s involvement in illegal activities. After last night, we have one more thing to add to an already extensive list.”

President Barack Obama urged all sides in Turkey to support the democratically elected government in Turkey, a key NATO ally.

 

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