Turkey has renewed its call for the United States to extradite Turkish religious leader Fethullah Gulen, and 83 alleged members of his movement, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
The Turkish government blames Gulen for the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but previous calls for his extradition have so far been ignored by the US.
Cavusoglu said on Tuesday he did not receive assurances on the extradition issue after meeting with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo and US national security adviser John Bolton during a visit to Washington.
“But we have given this list of the people that we request the US to extradite,” Cavusoglu said.
US President Donald Trump “asked Erdogan to send that list and I gave that list to both Pompeo and ambassador Bolton,” he said.
NBC News reported last week that the White House was seeking ways to extradite Gulen in a bid to reduce Turkish pressure on Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Following Khashoggi’s disappearance on October 2, Turkish officials kept up a steady stream of leaks on the gory details of the writer’s killing, even as Saudi Arabia initially denied involvement. The kingdom eventually branded the murder a “rogue” operation.
No plans for extradition
Trump said on Saturday that he had no plans to extradite Gulen, who denies any involvement in the coup attempt.
“It’s not under consideration,” Trump told reporters, while also saying that Erdogan is “a friend of mine. He’s a strong man, a tough man and a smart man, so whatever we can do, we’ll do… but at this point? No.”
US-Turkish relations have recently been strained as a result of the Gulen issue as well as the US support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, among other matters.
However, they warmed up after Ankara’s release in October of US pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned on terrorism charges.
The fate of Gulen remains a central point of tension between the countries.
Turkey has designated Gulen’s network, which runs charities, schools and businesses across the world, as a terrorist organisation and has launched a widespread crackdown on suspected members since the coup bid.
It formally asked the US to arrest and extradite Gulen in August 2016, the month following the failed coup.
After the failed coup, thousands of Turkish officials, law enforcement officers, soldiers, human rights activists and others were arrested or sacked for alleged links to Gulen and his network.