Turkish prosecutors formally ask US for Gulen’s arrest
Turkey accuses exiled cleric Gulen of 10 charges, including attempting to overthrow the government.
Turkish prosecutors have formally requested the US government for the temporary arrest of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, over his alleged involvement in the attempted coup on July 15, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The request filed on Saturday by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office says it has determined the coup was staged upon orders by Gulen, and that he be arrested prior to the submission of a formal extradition request, the report said.
Turkey’s Justice Ministry passed on the letter to the US, which accuses Gulen of 10 charges including attempting to overthrow the government, according to reports.
The news comes as Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced that US Vice President Joe Biden will visit Turkey, the first by a Western leader since the failed coup.
The White House said Biden’s visit will take place on August 24.
A delegation from the US Justice Department will also arrive on August 22 to discuss the extradition.
On Saturday, Yildirim appeared to rule out any compromise on the demand for Gulen to face trial in Turkey.
“Improving our relations with the United States depends on the extradition of Gulen, and on that issue there is no room for negotiation,” Yildirim said, according to CNN Turk.
The US has asked the Turkish government for evidence of Gulen’s involvement, and has said that the extradition process must be allowed to take its course.
Earlier in August, an Istanbul-based court issued an arrest warrant against Gulen.
Gulen has repeatedly denied the government’s accusation and has denounced the arrest warrant as “yet another example of President Erdogan’s drive for authoritarianism”.
In the past, he has been accused of being the leader of an organisation that illegally tapped into the conversations of Erdogan and Ahmet Davutoglu, the former prime minister.
Turkey has designated Gulen’s network, which runs charities, schools and businesses across the world, as a “terrorist organisation” and has launched a widespread crackdown on suspected members since the failed coup attempt.
Since the July 15, around 26,000 people have been detained or arrested, mostly from the military, on suspicion of being involved in the failed putsch.