Turkey ups political pressure on US to extradite alleged coup leader

Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag claimed Friday that the extradition of cleric Fethullah Gulen from the United States will be a "political decision" rather than a judicial matter.

Turkish-born Gulen, 75, has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999 and denies the Ankara government's allegations he plotted the July 15 coup attempt.

Turkey has not yet filed a formal extradition request. Washington said the Department of Justice, and then ultimately a court, will weigh the merits of the case once a formal request is made through the appropriate channels.

"In the end, the decision of the US government will be a political decision," Bozdag said in televised remarks.

"In a case like this, not to extradite him, of course, would mean to prefer Fethullahs Gulen's friendship over Turkey's friendship," Bozdag says, repeating a key talking point of the Turkish government, as it tries to put pressure on the US.

Bozdag said the US Department of Justice will send four experts to the country later this month, apparently to help with the legal work. US Secretary of State John Kerry is also due in Turkey on August 24, according to the Turkish government.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey is preparing the legal documents for the extradition case.

Also, a Turkish general, who was on assignment in the US, is seeking asylum in the country, local media has reported. There are more than 100 alleged coup plotters still at large, Turkey says, including some abroad, such as military attaches.

Police have detained 35,022 people, of whom 17,740 have been formally arrested under court orders, since the failed putsch.

Turkey has suspended around 65,000 civil servants and rescinded the licences of 21,000 teachers since the failed putsch, alleging they have ties to the preacher.

Meanwhile, a court in Adana province has ordered authorities to seize all of Gulen's assets in Turkey, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The order from an Adana court applies to all property and bank accounts belonging to the preacher and three alleged allies. The motion to confiscate the assets was opened prior to the coup attempt.

Gulen and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were allies for more than a decade. The two had a falling out over political differences in recent years. Since late 2013, their acrimony has been public.

Last update: Fri, 12/08/2016 - 13:53
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