Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül told CNN Türk on Sunday that some “US prosecutors” and officials would soon travel to Turkey to discuss a request from Turkey to extradite Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by Ankara of orchestrating a failed coup attempt in July 2016.
According to Gül, as part of an ongoing investigation in the US into Gülen’s extradition, the officials will visit Turkey as the government continues to submit new evidence to support their allegations. The minister admitted that “no progress” has been made on the issue between the countries’ two presidents but that there has been no denial of the extradition request, either.
He also noted that there has been speculation about the reinstatement of capital punishment in Turkey which is why Western countries are reluctant to accept extradition requests. According to the minister, such reinstatement is out of the question. However, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has publicly vowed numerous times to reinstate the death penalty especially since the failed coup.
On Dec. 19 US President Donald Trump told his Turkish counterpart, Erdoğan, that Washington “would take a look at” the possibility of extraditing Gülen but made no commitment, the White House had said.
“The only thing he said is that we would take a look at it, nothing further at this point beyond that,” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders told reporters later in the day.
“Take a look at it but nothing committal at all in that process, just that he would look into it,” she added.
On Dec. 16 Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Trump had told Erdoğan that Washington was working on extraditing Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US for nearly two decades.
Asked about the comment on Dec. 17, another White House official said only that Trump did not commit to extraditing Gülen when he spoke to Erdoğan at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires last month.
Gülen and his movement have also been accused of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
The Gülen movement has denied all allegations leveled against it.
The requested extradition of Gülen is one of several issues that have strained the relationship between the two NATO allies.