Turkey will no longer comply with US requests to hand over persons accused of terrorism, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday, the Ahval news website reported.
Ankara recently extradited 12 suspects requested by Washington, but now that cooperation has come to an end, Erdoğan said in a speech at the presidential palace in Ankara, according to the Milli Gazete daily.
“From now on, whenever you want a terrorist from us, you won’t get him, so long as I am in office,” Erdoğan reportedly said.
Relations between the United States and Turkey have soured to their lowest level in decades. Tensions over US support for Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and demands by Turkey to hand over US-based Turkish Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen have intensified.
Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Ankara Philip Kosnett was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday where Turkey’s growing uneasiness over the US training of Syrian Kurdish militia in northern Syria near the Turkish border was conveyed.
In another point of contention between the two NATO allies, Ankara has long demanded the extradition of Gülen, a request that was renewed after a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016. However, the US Justice Department has not found sufficient evidence linking Gülen to the putsch, despite the boxes of documents Turkey has submitted, claiming that they back up their claim.
Relations entered crisis mode last year after Turkey arrested a US consular employee, prompting Washington to suspend non-immigrant visa services for three months, matched by a reciprocal action on the part of Turkish diplomatic missions in the US.