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Erdogan calls on US to extradite preacher Gulen

Last updated on: July 17, 2016 01:21 IST
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In a televised speech, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States should extradite Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan said Turkey had never turned back any extradition request for “terrorists” by the United States and stressed Turkey’s joint role with the US in fighting terrorism. “I say if we are strategic partners then you should bring about our request,” he said.

Gulen has harshly condemned the attempted coup attempt by military officers that resulted in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left dozens dead. But Erdogan’s government is blaming the chaos on the cleric, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania and promotes a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.

Erdogan has long accused Gulen, a former ally, of trying to overthrow the government. Washington has never found any evidence particularly compelling previously.

Gulen is understood to maintain significant support among some members of the military and mid-level bureaucrats. His movement called Hizmet includes think tanks, schools and various media enterprises. Gulen and Erdogan only became estranged in recent years.

In a statement, Gulen said he condemned, “in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey.”

“Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force,” he said. “I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly.”

Gulen sharply rejected any responsibility: “As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations.”

Secretary of State John Kerry said today that the United States will assist Turkey in the investigation of a failed coup and invited Ankara to share any evidence it has against a US-based opposition figure Fethullah Gulen.

Speaking in Luxembourg, Kerry said Washington had not yet received a formal extradition bid for the expatriate cleric, but added: "We fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr Gulen."

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