Turkey has not forgotten about exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen nor abandoned its demands for his extradition from the United States. In fact, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag is currently en route to Washington to discuss extradition with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Hurriyet Daily News reports:
Bozdağ is scheduled to hold meetings with U.S. Attorney-General Loretta Lynch on Oct. 26 and 27 in Washington to provide some additional documents that were obtained by post-coup probes in order to substantiate the official request for the extradition of Gülen and to discuss the possibility of a provisional arrest of the cleric. Lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as well as opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmakers will accompany him.
One of the issues the justice minister will raise in the meeting is expected to be Ankara’s disturbance at the U.S.’s reluctance to implement a bilateral judicial cooperation agreement that stipulates the provisional arrest or detention of the requested person.
Bozdağ had previously indicated that Turkey had seized more than a half a million digital documents during the July 15 coup attempt investigation, emphasizing that Gülen himself was the driving force behind the thwarted plot. Referring to the agreement which Turkey and the U.S. signed in 1981 and which obliges Turkey to provide the necessary evidence regarding the requested individual, Bozdağ said on Oct. 9 that Turkey was to send the request for the detention of Gülen on Sept. 10, but did not receive any response.
As Turkish officials often state, a great deal of documentation on Gulen has already been sent to Washington for review. It is not clear if Bozdag is bringing any papers the Justice Department has not already seen.
While Turkey desires a swift extradition, U.S. authorities have said the process is complex, involving agencies from the U.S. State Department to the Pennsylvania district where Gulen lives. It is also possible that humanitarian concerns about Turkey’s justice system could prompt any of several agencies to deny the extradition request, a possibility that Lynch will probably discuss very gingerly with Bozdag.
On his way out of Ankara, Bozdag gave a press conference in which he said Gulen’s extradition means as much to Turkey as killing Osama bin Laden meant to the United States, which is probably not the best strategy for convincing American bureaucrats that Gulen will be given a fair trial by completely impartial Turkish courts.
He also warned that rough times lie ahead for U.S.-Turkish relations if Gulen is not surrendered: “What we want is not to bring the ties between the U.S. and Turkey to a negative point just because of a terrorist.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed on Tuesday that American officials “want to get rid of Gulen, but don’t want to extradite him to Turkey.”
“They tell us, ‘We want to get rid of him.’ We tell them, ‘Give him to us then.’ But they don’t want to hand him over,” Cavusoglu complained