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Turkish justice minister will travel to US for talks on Gülen extradition

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Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ will visit the US on Oct. 25 to discuss Turkey’s request for the extradition of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by the government of masterminding a July 15 coup attempt, the state-run Anadolu news agency has reported.

Speaking to journalists in Parliament on Tuesday, Bozdağ said the main topic of his US visit will be the dossiers sent by Ankara to Washington regarding its extradition request and Turkey’s demand for the arrest of Gülen until a US court makes a decision regarding his extradition.

Bozdağ, who will meet with US Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Oct. 26-27, said he will share new developments and evidence regarding Gülen’s alleged involvement in the coup with the US officials.

Speaking to CNN Türk in a televised interview on Saturday, Bozdağ said although the process is still under way, the Turkish side has the impression that the US will not extradite Gülen.

The minister said he understands that the legal process in the US may take a long time but that he is unable to grasp the slowness of the process for someone whose dossier is so full of evidence.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which launched a war against the Gülen movement following the eruption of a corruption scandal in late 2013 in which senior government members were implicated, carried its ongoing crackdown on the movement and its sympathizers to a new level after a failed coup attempt on July 15 that killed 240 people and injured a thousand others.

Although the movement strongly denies having any role in the corruption probe or the coup attempt, the government accuses it of having masterminded both despite the lack of any tangible evidence.

Gülen called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated 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 in July claimed that Turkish government members decided to pin 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 magazine wrote its report based on interceptions of phone calls by English intelligence, emails and SMS messages of members of the Turkish government.

More than 100,000 people have been purged from state bodies, nearly 70,000 detained and 32,000 arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police officers, military personnel, doctors, court personnel and even a comedian.

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