Gulen’s lawyers fear attacks against cleric’s life

Speaking at a news conference in Washington, the lawyers said they expected the cleric to remain in his Pennsylvania compound

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Lawyers for US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen said on Friday they were fearful of potential attacks against his life.

Speaking at a news conference in Washington, the lawyers said they expected the cleric, who has denied any involvement in last month’s failed coup against Turkey’s government, to remain in his Pennsylvania compound.

In a related story, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev vowed on Friday to send anyone working or studying at schools linked to Gulen back to Turkey should they be found to have “terror links.”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan blames the reclusive cleric for orchestrating the July 15 failed attempt to unseat him, and has asked Astana to “take a step” after handing over a list of Gulen-linked schools.

Erdogan has said there are 33 Gulen-run schools in the Central Asian republic.

On Thursday, a State Department spokesman said that the United States is evaluating new documents sent by Turkey to push for Gulen's extradition, the alleged mastermind of the country’s recent failed coup.

“The Turkish authorities (made) several deliveries of documents to us and we’re in the process of going through those documents,” spokesman Mark Toner told a daily news briefing.

Toner said the first batch “did not, we believe, constitute a formal extradition request.”

He added: “We subsequently received more documents. We’re looking through them ... and I don’t think they’ve reached that determination yet.”

The US Justice Department is the main agency poring over the documents to see whether they amount to a formal extradition request for Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, have warned that ties with the United States will be affected if it fails to extradite Gulen.

The NATO member plays an important role in the US-led fight against ISIS. But Washington has said Ankara must provide clear evidence of Gulen’s involvement in the failed military coup before any extradition process can move forward.

Gulen has denied plotting against Turkey and has condemned the coup attempt.

Toner said the United States had offered to help Turkey with investigating the coup. He did not say whether Turkey had responded to the offer.

Erdogan vowed on Thursday to choke off the businesses, while an Istanbul court issued an arrest warrant for Gulen for “giving the instructions” for the coup attempt, in which more than 230 people were killed.

In New York, Kamil Aydin, a Turkish member of parliament from Erzurum, said the US Justice Department had received 85 boxes of documents from Turkey related to Gulen so far.

“They are in the process of evaluating these documents,” he said, without giving any details on the files.

(With Reuters, AFP)