Turkey’s justice minister sent a follow-up document to the United States Tuesday seeking the arrest of cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and whom Ankara accuses of instigating an attempted coup on July 15.
Bekir Bozdag sent a “second written document” requesting Gulen’s arrest, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. The minister said the second letter explained why there was an urgent need for the arrest.
Ankara has demanded Gulen’s extradition over the failed coup, which left 271 people dead. Washington has asked for evidence of the cleric’s involvement, saying the extradition process must take its course.
The Turkish government launched a sweeping crackdown on Gulen’s movement, which it characterizes as a terrorist organization and which runs schools, charities and businesses internationally. In Turkey, nearly 70,000 people have been suspended from their jobs on suspicion of being involved in the movement.
“They requested certain information following our first letter; we provided answers to the question ‘why is it urgent?'” Anadolu quoted Bozdag as telling reporters in parliament.
“We wrote to them that there are serious claims and statements that Fethullah Gulen has a hand in the attempted coup. That is why he needs to be detained urgently. (We wrote) that we have intelligence that he can escape to third countries,” Bozdag said.
“I hope that the United States decides in Turkey’s favor, in line with democracy and the rule of law, and returns this leader of a terror organization to Turkey.”
The minister said that if Gulen leaves the U.S. for another country, it would be with the full knowledge of U.S. authorities.”If he escapes then the U.S. would either have turned a blind eye or approved of it.”