Turkey says it has new evidence against Gulen which could help in extradition

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News Analysis |

Turkish Minister of Justice said that new evidence has been discovered which shows that U.S based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen was directly in contact with the perpetrators of 2016 defeated coup. The minister further added that evidence was derived from the cell phone of one of the FETO, what Gulen’s organization is called in Turkey, a member who was in contact with Gulen during the attempted coup. He said that a contract will be made between him and the U.S attorney general soon in the light of the emerged evidence to help speed up the extradition request which Turkey has put two years back.

Putin became the first world leader to meet Erdogan and the first one to call him personally after the attempted coup even before any NATO ally of Turkey.

On the night of July 16, 2016, a faction of Turkish military took control of government building, important roads, and bridges while holding government officials and even chief of Turkish military hostage in an attempted coup. From the details of events later unfolded, the coup seemed to have been meticulously orchestrated and planned over a long course of time and immediately the fingers were pointed to exiled Turkish leader, living in United States, Fethullah Golan. After the situation was under control and coup was successfully defeated by masses and troops loyal to the government, President Erdogan vowed to bring the conspirators to justice.

The announcement was followed by the large-scale crackdown on the sympathizers and facilitators of Fethullah Gulen, the person which Turkey firmly believes to be the core conspirator of the attempt, along with efforts to bring him back to Turkey.

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Gulen who was once Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s mentor and friend currently resides in the Pennsylvania U.SA. He has been granted the status of permanent resident, a green card holder, back in 2001, two years after he moved to the United States. The demand for his extradition has partly been the reason which led to contentious relations between NATO allies. The United States has demanded irrefutable proof which shows his involvement in the attempt of toppling the elected government back in 2016.

In Turkey, however, the government and the majority of the public sees Gulen to be the reason for chaos which led to the death of 245 people on the night of July 16. The United States has maintained that the extradition of Fetullah Gulen is subjected to its law which cannot be superseded or bypassed. However, when a Turkish court ordered to keep the detained Turkey based U.S pastor Andrew Brunson, who was held under the charges of facilitating the instigators of the failed coup, U.S president asked President Erdogan to intervene himself via a tweet.

It gives the impression that United States holds the principle of law of the land being superior only when it is the U.S law. Example of Andrew Brunson is cited in the United States, by those who view Erdogan as an authoritarian, that Fethullah Gulen will be subjected to victimization without proof if he is extradited to Turkey. On principle, when the matter is subjudice it is incumbent to let the law take its course, no matter which country is the focal point.

U.S attitude after the coup strengthened the notion inside Turkey that the United States of America at any level did have an involvement in the coup. Regime change is something which U.S establishment has been known to engineer in the past, and the Turks had strong reasons to believe that it was the case is July 2016. Besides whatever the truth behind the coup was, it helped Turkey and Russia to come closer that had long been frayed by their rivalry in Syria. Putin became the first world leader to meet Erdogan and the first one to call him personally after the attempted coup even before any NATO ally of Turkey. It turned out to be a major setback for U.S strategic interests in Syria which resulted in the failure to topple the Assad regime, which the U.S intended for long, later on.

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Now U.S seems to be getting over with the particular hurdle of extradition request in the way of U.S-Turkey relations as there are other important issues which need to be addressed like U.S defense cooperation with Russia. Turkey is expected to get the first delivery of S-400 anti-ballistic missile defense system by next year. According to Reuters, a U.S official said U.S. Justice Department authorities were working closely with their Turkish counterparts to ensure that any extradition request Turkey submits to a U.S. court is “detailed enough to have a chance of success. “My colleagues at the Justice Department tell me that they have spent more time on the Gulen extradition request than on any other extradition request in their memory… thousands of hours,” the official said. The fate of extradition request is expected to be decided soon.

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