A delegation from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government travelled to the US on Tuesday to discuss the extradition of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed military coup attempt on July 15.
The delegation, comprising several AKP deputies, is led by AKP Deputy Chairman for Foreign Affairs Mehdi Eker.
Turkish authorities claim Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania, was the mastermind behind the violent coup attempt that killed over 240 people and injured a thousand others on July 15, while Gülen strongly denies any involvement.
The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have designated the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by Gülen and operating charities, schools and businesses around the world, as a terrorist organization and have launched a widespread crackdown on suspected members since the failed coup.
US Vice President Joe Biden, who paid a visit to Ankara last month, said the US administration wants to cooperate with Turkey over the Turkish government’s request for the extradition of Gülen but that it is a US court that will make the decision.
Although President Erdoğan has repeatedly called on the US administration to extradite Gülen to Turkey, it has emerged that Turkey has still not sent a dossier to the US in an attempt to prove Gülen’s involvement in the failed coup.
Speaking at a news conference on Sunday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, after meeting with US President Barack Obama, Erdoğan said Turkey had sent a dossier to the US about Gülen prior to the July 15 coup attempt and will send a new file regarding Gülen’s alleged involvement in the failed coup to the US later.
Although Gülen called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
A report published by the German Focus magazine last month claimed that Turkish government members decided to put the blame for the coup attempt on Gülen half an hour after the uprising and agreed to begin a purge of Gülen followers the next day.
The German weekly wrote its report based on interceptions of phone calls by English intelligence, emails and SMS messages of members of the Turkish government.