Turkey formally asks US to extradite Gulen

Turkey seeks US-based cleric’s extradition but not for coup, says the State Dept

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The US State Department said on Friday that Turkey has formally requested the extradition of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen but not on issues related to the recent coup attempt, which Turkish leaders have accused him of inspiring.

“We can confirm now that Turkey has requested the extradition of Gulen,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a briefing. US officials earlier said they were reviewing documents submitted by Turkey but were not able to say they constituted an extradition request.

Toner told reporters the formal extradition request from Turkey was not related to the attempted coup earlier this year but was for other issues for which Gulen was being sought by authorities in Ankara.

Earlier, Officials said Turkish and American justice officials were discussing Turkey’s demands for Gulen's extradition.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry says its officials opened talks Tuesday with US Justice Department and State Department officials in the capital, Ankara.

Gulen has lived in the US state of Pennsylvania for the past 17 years in self-imposed exile. He has denied any involvement in the July 15 coup attempt that claimed 270 lives.

The US government has asked for firm evidence before considering extradition. Senior officials in the Obama administration say Turkey’s extradition requests have been based on allegations of other crimes against Gulen, not evidence of involvement in the coup attempt.

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 Turkey's government is blaming the chaos on the cleric, who promotes a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gulen - a former ally - of trying to overthrow the government. But Gulen said on Saturday the attempted overthrow may have been staged, and he urged the Turkish people not to view military intervention in a positive light.

(With AP)

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