Turkey’s justice minister arrived in the United States on Wednesday for talks with Attorney General Loretta Lynch over the Turkish government’s demand for the extradition of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, the inspirer of the Gülen movement which Turkey accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.
The meeting between the two at the US Justice Department was closed to the media.
Turkish authorities claim Gülen, who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999, 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 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.
Gülen called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but 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.
While Erdoğan and the Turkish government have demanded Gülen’s extradition from the US and shut down schools linked with the movement, US officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, have several times said that it is the US courts that will decide on Gülen’s extradition if a case is filed against him with concrete evidence that demonstrates his involvement in a crime.