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Turkey denies seeking illegal removal of Gülen, demands his extradition

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Following reports that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is being investigated by the US special counsel for an alleged plan to forcibly remove Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen from the US to Turkey in exchange for millions of dollars, the Turkish Embassy in Washington has issued a statement saying that “all allegations that Turkey would resort to means external to the rule of law for his extradition are utterly false, ludicrous and groundless” and demanding his legal extradition.

According to a Friday report in The Wall Street Journal, Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million to hand Gülen over to the Turkish government under the alleged proposal, according to people with knowledge of discussions Flynn had with Turkish representatives during a reported meeting in December at the 21 Club in New York City. The talks involved possibly transporting Gülen by private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali, where Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), is incarcerated.

Gülen is accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016. Gülen and the movement he inspired have denied any involvement in the putsch.

The WSJ also reported that “[o]ne person familiar with the alleged discussions about Mr. Gülen said Mr. Flynn also was prepared to use his influence in the White House to further the legal extradition of the cleric …”

The alleged meeting to discuss the kidnapping of Gülen followed another meeting in September in New York between Flynn and Berat Albayrak, energy minister of Turkey and President Erdoğan’s son-in-law, and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, with the attendance of former CIA director James Woolsey, who described the proposal to The Wall Street Journal as “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.”

Repeating the Turkish government’s unsubstantiated claims of Gülen having orchestrated the failed coup, the embassy said in its statement: “The fact that Fetullah Gulen who is the mastermind behind all these crimes continues to find refuge in the United States remains, perplexing and deeply frustrating for the Turkish people. … The Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish people expect the immediate extradition of Fetullah Gulen from the United States to Turkey, so that he can stand trial.”

The Turkish government has requested the cleric’s extradition to Turkey numerous times but has failed to provide compelling evidence to the US Justice Department to proceed with extradition proceedings.

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