Erdogan foe Gulen urges US to reject extradition bid

Government supporters burn the picture of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen during a protest in Taksim Square. (AP)

US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen urged Washington to reject Turkey’s efforts to extradite him and rejected as “ridiculous” the claim he was behind the past week’s coup attempt.

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today once again demonstrated he will go to any length necessary to solidify his power and persecute his critics,” Gulen said in a statement.

“I urge the US government to reject any effort to abuse the extradition process to carry out political vendettas.”

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, denies any involvement in the putsch.

“It is ridiculous, irresponsible and false to suggest I had anything to do with the horrific failed coup,” he reiterated in the statement.

READ MORE: Turkey removes 492 state religious personnel after failed coup

Gulen is the spiritual leader of the Hizmet movement, which promotes moderate Islam across dozens of countries and is dubbed a terrorist group by the Turkish government.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Tuesday that his government had sent four files to the United States in a bid to secure the extradition of a man Ankara brands a “traitor.”

The White House said President Barack Obama discussed the extradition request during a phone call with Erdogan Tuesday, during which he pledged US assistance in investigating the coup attempt.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the documents were being reviewed in light of the three-decade old extradition treaty that exists between the United States and Turkey.

He also stressed that the cleric is entitled to certain rights by law.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48