The Turkish government has repudiated as “utterly false, ludicrous, and groundless” allegations that it considered paying U.S. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, retired. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and his son up to $15 million to kidnap United States-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Flynn’s lawyer also dismissed the claim as “false,” various news outlets reported.
In an article published Friday, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is probing the alleged plot to kidnap Gulen, a cleric who fled from Turkey into the U.S. nearly two decades ago, in 1999.
The Journal reported that Mueller is investigating a plot in which Flynn and his son were allegedly going to deliver Gulen to the Turks for a fee of up to $15 million.
On Saturday, the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC, denied the allegations that Turkey would resort to illegal means to get its hands on Gulen, referring to the claims as “utterly false, ludicrous and groundless.”
In a statement, the Turkish embassy said:
We continue to work in close coordination with our colleagues in the relevant U.S. agencies to ensure that they comprehend the full scope of the criminality of FETO, the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization, and the justifications for Gulen’s extradition, pursuant to the terms of the Turkey-U.S. bilateral extradition treaty.
The Government of the Republic of turkey and the Turkish people expect the immediate extradition of Fetullah Gulen from the United States to Turkey so that he can stand trial. As we stated previously, on March 28, 2017 all allegations that Turkey would resort to means external to the rule of law for his extradition are utterly false, ludicrous, and groundless.
Press Release of the Embassy of Turkey Regarding Recent Allegations on the Extradition of Fetullah Gulen, November 11, 2017 pic.twitter.com/7nhtp4qSPv
— TurkishEmbassyDC (@TurkishEmbassy) November 11, 2017
Echoing Ankara, Flynn’s unnamed lawyer also denied the allegations, saying in a statement:
Out of respect for the process of the various investigations regarding the 2016 campaign, we have intentionally avoided responding to every rumor or allegation raised in the media. But today’s news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery, that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule: they are false.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has officially designated his former ally Gulen and his followers as terrorists.
The Erdogan administration has repeatedly accused the cleric and his supporters — the Gulen Movement — of trying to remove him from office, including during the failed coup attempt in July 2016, which left more than 240 people dead and at least 2,000 others injured.
Gulen denies the accusations.
President Erdogan has cracked down on alleged Gulen supporters, taking legal action against tens of thousands of Turks accused of being affiliated with the imam.
The United States’ refusal to allow Turkish authorities to extradite Gulen and some of his supporters for the alleged role in the coup has infuriated Ankara.