Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül on Thursday said Ankara has sent the US a total of seven extradition requests and one temporary arrest warrant for Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
According to the report Gül said during a budgetary meeting in Parliament that the last official request for the extradition of Gülen was sent to the US on Nov. 3.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government accuse Gülen of masterminding a failed coup in Turkey last July. Gülen and the movement he inspired deny any involvement with the coup attempt.
Ankara has long demanded the extradition of Gülen, a request that was renewed after the failed coup in July 2016. However, the US Justice Department has reportedly not found sufficient evidence linking Gülen to the putsch, despite the boxes of documents Turkey has submitted, claiming they back up their claim.
The federal investigation into US President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, retired general Michael Flynn, and his son as part of the probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election has revealed that the FBI refused a demand to review a request from Turkey in 2016 to extradite Gülen, NBC News reported on Nov. 6.
“The FBI pushed back on the request because Turkey had supplied no additional information that could incriminate Gülen following a review of the case during the Obama administration, the official said. It is unclear whether the request to investigate Gülen came from Flynn or through the typical diplomatic channels at the State Department.”
An alleged plan that involved Flynn to forcibly remove Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania, in return for millions of dollars is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 10.
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.
3,945 judges and prosecutors dismissed
Minister Gül also said 3,945 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed as part of a purge launched following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Nov. 16 that 48,739 people had been jailed and eight holdings and 1,020 companies seized as part of operations into the movement.
The Turkish Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15 of last year through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency.