Trump working on extraditing preacher Gülen, top Turkish official says

Turkish foreign minister cited comments apparently made by US President Donald Trump to his Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina earlier this month
Monday, 17 December 2018 01:49

U.S. President Donald Trump has told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Washington is working on extraditing a U.S.-based Islamic preacher, one of the masterminds of a failed Turkish coup in 2016, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu claimed Sunday.

"In Argentina, Trump told Erdoğan they were working on extraditing (Fethullah) Gülen and other people," Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, referring to the G20 summit where the leaders met two weeks ago. "But we have to see concrete steps, because it has already been more than two years, almost three years," he added.

The Islamic preacher, 77, has been living in a gated compound in eastern Pennsylvania after leaving Turkey in 1999. Ankara has long demanded that Washington extradite Gülen. 

The extradition request has been a major cause of friction between the two leaders, and rumors surfaced last month that the White House had made inquiries about the legal implication of expelling Gülen. That forced Trump to deny he was considering extraditing the preacher as part of a deal with the Ankara government to ease political pressure over the killing of Saudi Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Gülen had been a close ally of Erdoğan's AKP government. Gülen's CIA-linked network helping Erdoğan to redesign and install his Islamic-rooted AKP party in power in 2002. But his alliance with the AKP has faltered in recent years. On 15 July 2016, the network of Gülen, which is also an Islamic cult, attempted to topple down Erdoğan by a military coup but it failed.

Çavuoğlu said the Turkish government had also requested the extradition of more than 80 Gülen followers living in the United States.

"Our expectation is very clear,” Çavuoğlu said, adding that "we have bilateral agreements and international law is there."


The minister also claimed the FBI had evidence that Gülen's network, known as Fethullahist Terrorist Organization or FETÖ, "had been violating US laws, including tax fraud, visa fraud and also some other illegal activities."

Erdoğan said last week he would advance plans to target the overseas financing of the members of Gülen network.