- President Edrogan behind coup, says Gullen
TURKEY has said it is putting together an extradition request for United States-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
The U.S. government has said it would consider any formal request. Gulen, whose followers Turkey blames for a failed coup, said on Sunday that he would obey any extradition ruling from the United States but said that President Tayyip Erdogan had staged the putsch.
Erdogan said Turkey’s justice and foreign ministries would write to Western governments to demand the return of Gulen’s supporters from those countries. “I am not really worried about the extradition request,” Gulen told reporters, speaking through a translator in Pennsylvania where he lives.
“Twenty years ago, I clearly stated my support for democracy and I said that there is no return from democracy in Turkey,” Gulen said Saturday. “My position on democracy is really clear. Any attempts to overthrow the country is a betrayal to our unity and is treason.” Gulen, who is living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denied he had anything to do with it.
“It could be anything,” Gulen told journalists. “I have been away from Turkey for 16 years.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States hadn’t yet received a formal request from Turkey for Gulen’s extradition.
“We think it’s irresponsible to have an accusation of American involvement when we’re simply waiting for their request which we’re absolutely prepared to act on if it meets the legal standard,” Kerry said.
Kerry said he had no evidence that Gulen was behind the plot to seize power, and he urged Turkish authorities to compile evidence as rapidly as possible so the United States could evaluate whether he should be extradited to Turkey.
Meanwhile, Turkey widened a crackdown on suspected supporters of a failed military coup on Sunday, taking the number of people rounded up in the armed forces and judiciary to 6,000, and the government said it was in full control of the country and economy.
The arrests include Gen. Bekir Ercan Van, commander of the Incirlik Air Base, according to the Turkish President’s office. The United States uses the airbase to launch airstrikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
An “order of detention” for Col. Ali Yazici, a senior military aide to Erdogan, has also been issued, according to Anadolu.
Eight Turkish soldiers were arrested after flying a helicopter to Alexandroupoli, Greece, hours after the failed coup attempt. They were charged with “illegal entrance” into Greece and are due in court Monday.
Supporters of President Tayyip Erdogan gathered in front of his Istanbul home to call for the plotters to face the death penalty, which Turkey outlawed in 2004 as part of its efforts to join the European Union.
“We cannot ignore this demand,” Erdogan told the chanting crowd. “In democracies, whatever the people say has to happen.”
Pictures on social media showed detained soldiers stripped from the waist up, some wearing only their underpants, handcuffed and lying packed together on the floor of a sports hall where they were being held in Ankara.