No further extraditions to US unless Washington hands over Gulen: Erdogan
Iran Press TV
Thu Jan 11, 2018 05:11PM
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will not extradite any suspects to the US as long as Washington refuses to hand over Pennsylvania-based opposition figure Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government accuses of having masterminded the mid-July 2016 coup attempt.
"If you're not giving him (Gulen) to us, then excuse us, but from now on whenever you ask us for another terrorist, as long as I am in office, you will not get them," Erdogan told local administrators at a conference in his presidential palace in the capital Ankara on Thursday.
The Turkish leader further said that Ankara had so far extradited a dozen "terrorists" to US authorities, "but they have not given us back the one we want. They made up excuses from thin air."
Gulen has strongly rejected any involvement in the botched putsch against Erdogan, but Ankara has labeled his transnational religious and social movement, Gulen Hareketi, as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
The Turkish government has so far submitted a total of seven requests to US officials concerning the extradition of the 76-year-old cleric, but all to no avail. Washington argues that it has not yet received any sufficient evidence, required by US courts, to extradite the figure.
Turkey, a NATO member, and the US have been at loggerheads over a range of issues in recent months. Ankara, among others, is infuriated by the US arms support for and training of Kurdish militants in Syria, who are seen by Turkey as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The two countries also halted issuing visas for months last year over a dispute following the detention of two locally employed US consulate employees in Turkey on suspicion of having links to the coup attempt.
The Turkish authorities have so far detained more than 50,000 people, including security officials, military personnel and civil servants, over alleged links to Gulen's movement and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have also been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.
The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.