U.S. Is ‘Working On’ Extraditing Gulen
Turkey’s foreign minister said Sunday that the United States was “working on” extraditing Fethullah Gulen, the Muslim religious leader who is wanted in Turkey on charges that he instigated a failed coup there two years ago. New York Times reports in its article U.S. Is ‘Working On’ Extraditing Gulen, Top Turkish Official Says that the presence of Mr. Gulen in the United States — he has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since the 1990s — is one of the major points of contention in the uneasy relations between the two NATO allies.
But Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that President Trump had told President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting at the recent Group of 20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires that his administration was “working on” the extradition request. Mr. Cavusoglu made the comments Sunday at a conference in Doha, Qatar. “Last time we met in Buenos Aires, President Trump told President Erdogan that they have been working on that,” he said, “but we need to see concrete steps because it has been already two years, almost three years.”
The State Department referred requests for comment to the Justice Department, which declined to comment. Mr. Cavusoglu said Turkey had also requested the extradition of more than 80 Gulen followers living in the United States. “Our expectation is very clear,” Mr. Cavusoglu said, adding that “we have bilateral agreements and international law is there.”
Turkey has repeatedly requested that Mr. Gulen be handed over, or that he be prosecuted in the United States. Turkish officials have often complained that the United States government has done little with what Turkey says is 85 boxes of evidence in support of the case against the preacher that it has handed over.
Mr. Gulen has denied playing a role in the coup attempt. United States officials have said in the past that Justice Department agents have devoted hundreds of hours going through the evidence, but that it does not meet the standard to secure Mr. Gulen’s extradition in an American court.
Turkey and the United States have also been at loggerheads over the United States relationship with Kurdish forces in Syria. The Turkish government considers the Kurds a threat, and Mr. Erdogan threatened this month to mount a new incursion into northern Syria to tackle the threat.
The United States counters that the Kurds are the most capable of fighting the Islamic State. In addition, tensions rose over how to respond to the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Mr. Trump’s defense of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia in that case has irritated the Turks, who have demanded a fuller accounting from the Saudis of what happened.