The Cable

Turkey Pushes U.S. to Extradite Alleged Coup Plotter

Turkey’s prime minister ramped up the pressure on the United States to extradite the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen on Tuesday by delivering four dossiers allegedly linking the preacher to Friday’s attempted coup.

Turkish Prime Minister and the leader of Turkey's ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Binali Yildirim speaks during the AK Party's group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara, on July 19, 2016. 
Turkey's prime minister said on July 19 his government had sent four files to the United States, as Ankara seeks the extradition of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen over his alleged links to Friday's attempted coup. / AFP / ADEM ALTAN        (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Turkish Prime Minister and the leader of Turkey's ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Binali Yildirim speaks during the AK Party's group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara, on July 19, 2016. Turkey's prime minister said on July 19 his government had sent four files to the United States, as Ankara seeks the extradition of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen over his alleged links to Friday's attempted coup. / AFP / ADEM ALTAN (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey’s prime minister ramped up the pressure on the United States to extradite the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen on Tuesday by delivering four dossiers allegedly linking the preacher to Friday’s attempted coup.

The 75-year-old religious leader’s presence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, puts the United States in a bind as it weighs the evidence provided by a strategic NATO ally against concerns that Gulen may be targeted for his political opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rather than because of any role in the botched military putsch.

“We have sent four dossiers to the United States for the extradition of the terrorist chief. We will present them with more evidence than they want,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told parliament, according to Agence France-Presse. Using increasingly aggressive rhetoric, he vowed to remove the Gulen movement “by its roots” so it can never pose a threat to Turkey again.

He also issued a stern warning to Washington: “Do not protect that traitor anymore, for this has no benefit for you, humanity, nor Islam,” he said.

Gulen, a onetime political ally of Erdogan whose billion-dollar network controls banks, media companies, and construction firms, denies any involvement and accuses the Turkish president of engineering the failed coup to consolidate power and snuff out dissent.

In the aftermath of the failed coup, which killed more than 290 people, Erdogan’s government has detained or dismissed an astonishing 18,000 officials, according to the New York Times, including 6,000 members of the military, 9,000 police officers, and up to 3,000 judges and 30 governors.

Secretary of State John Kerry has said the United States will consider any extradition request for Gulen from Turkey but that Washington’s decision to extradite will be based on the strength of the evidence.

“Obviously, we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny,” Kerry said during a stop in Luxembourg. “And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments about it appropriately.”

In Turkish media, the United States has been the target of scorn and conspiracy theories alleging that it was behind the coup — charges the U.S. Embassy in Ankara has tried to combat.

But Washington isn’t the only capital under pressure to return Turkish citizens suspected of playing a role in last week’s coup.

Following the coup attempt, eight Turkish military personnel fled to Greece on a helicopter and on Tuesday appeared before authorities to pursue applications for asylum. Their lawyers have told reporters they had no role in the coup plot. According to the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called Yildirim on Sunday night and confirmed that the extradition process had begun.

Photo credit: ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

John Hudson is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, where he covers diplomacy and national security issues in Washington. He has reported from several geopolitical hotspots, including Ukraine, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, and Georgia. Prior to joining FP, John covered politics and global affairs for the Atlantic magazine’s news blog, the Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August war between Russia and Georgia from Tbilisi and the breakaway region of Abkhazia. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, Al Jazeera, and other broadcast outlets. He has been with the magazine since 2013. @john_hudson

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