Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked US President Donald Trump to extradite Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, and Trump promised to re-evaluate the issue, the Turkiye daily reported on Sunday.
“I have asked Trump to extradite Gülen one more time,” Erdoğan told party members when giving details of a phone call with Trump on Friday.
President 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.
Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül on Thursday said Ankara had sent the US a total of seven extradition requests and one temporary arrest warrant for Gülen. 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.
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 its claim.
The federal investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, retired general Michael Flynn, and his son as part of a 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.