The Cable

Turkey Touts ‘Positive Signals’ on Gulen Extradition

For weeks, senior Turkish officials have issued ominous threats and stern warnings to the United States if it fails to extradite Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based preacher whom Ankara accuses of masterminding last month’s attempted coup. But on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu struck a noticeably upbeat tone.

SAYLORSBURG, PA - JULY 17:  (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Turkish Preacher Fethullah Gulen speaks during a group interview on July 17, 2016 in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. Gulen has been accused by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he is behind the foiled military coup attempt.  (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
SAYLORSBURG, PA - JULY 17: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Turkish Preacher Fethullah Gulen speaks during a group interview on July 17, 2016 in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. Gulen has been accused by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he is behind the foiled military coup attempt. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

For weeks, senior Turkish officials have issued ominous threats and stern warnings to the United States if it fails to extradite Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based preacher whom Ankara accuses of masterminding last month’s attempted coup. But on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu struck a noticeably upbeat tone.

“We have started to receive some positive signals on the calls we have made” for Gulen’s extradition, Cavusoglu told journalists in Ankara during a press briefing. He noted that more documents building the case for Gulen’s deportation were being processed for delivery to Washington.

“Everyone in the world knows who is behind this coup attempt,” he added.

Washington has yet to accept Turkey’s request for Gulen, saying it needs direct evidence of his involvement in the coup. U.S. officials are reportedly suspicious that statements by alleged coup-plotters blaming Gulen were made under duress and are concerned that the 75-year-old hermit would not receive a fair trial.

When asked, a State Department official did not indicate that the U.S. position has changed regarding Gulen’s extradition.

“As we have said before, we have received materials and are reviewing them,” State Department spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau told Foreign Policy.

The Gulen case has become a major source of tension between the United States and Turkey, a NATO ally and a key part of the U.S. fight against the Islamic State.  

On Tuesday, Turkey’s Justice minister, Bekir Bozdag, said failing to extradite Gulen would do lasting damage to U.S.-Turkish relations. “If the US does not deliver [Gulen], they will sacrifice relations with Turkey for the sake of a terrorist,” Bozdag said.

More than 200 people died and thousands were wounded when a faction of the Turkish military took over helicopters, tanks and fighter jets in an effort to oust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In recent weeks, Turkish authorities have arrested or detained tens of thousands of academics, soldiers, judges and journalists, raising concerns among Western officials.

Gulen publicly condemned the coup and denies any involvement in the uprising. On Friday, he penned an opinion column in the  the French daily Le Monde, saying he would willingly hand himself over to Turkish authorities on the condition that an independent international investigative body found him guilty of orchestrating the coup.

“If a tenth of the accusations against me are established, I pledge to return to Turkey and serve the heaviest sentence,” Gulen wrote.

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