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Turkey to ask foreign countries to extradite 10 Gülen-linked figures

Businessman Akın İpek

A high criminal court in Ankara will ask a number of foreign countries where 10 figures affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement have taken refuge to extradite them to Turkey, according to the Anadolu news agency on Sunday.

According to Anadolu, the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court has prepared extradition requests to be sent to each country where these people are reportedly in exile.

The 10 Gülen-linked figures include businessman Akın İpek and Talip Büyük, who are reportedly in the UK; Nejdet Başaran, reported to be in Togo; Hamdullah Bayram Öztürk, said to be in Brazil; Mehmet Ali Büyükçelebi, Ahmet Kurucan and Ahmet Kara, who are believed to be in the US; and Ahmet Şahinalp and Mehmet Ali Şengül, reportedly in Germany.

The Gülen-linked figures are facing charges of being a member or leader of a terror organization, disseminating the propaganda of a terror organization and financing a terror organization.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been referring to the Gülen movement as a terror organization despite any court decision recognizing the movement as such.

The AKP, 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.

Despite Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose views inspired the movement, and the movement having denied the accusation, 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.

More than 115,000 people have been purged from state bodies, in excess of 90,000 detained and over 39,000 have been arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian. Critics argue that lists of Gülen sympathizers were drawn up prior to the coup attempt.

Turkey is also seeking the extradition of Gülen from the US where he has been living in self-imposed exile since 1999.

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