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US delegation observes key 2016 coup suspect’s questioning in court: report

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A visiting US delegation on Thursday observed the questioning in court of Kemal Batmaz, one of the key suspects in a failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 who was also charged with being a senior member of the faith-based Gülen movement, and two secret witnesses, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

US Justice Department officials comprised the delegation, which went to Turkey as part of a mutual legal assistance treaty between the two countries, according to the report.

The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the delegation also posed questions through the Turkish prosecutor regarding the role of Fethullah Gülen, the US-based leader of the movement, in the coup attempt.

The US delegation visited the Ankara 10th High Criminal Court on the first day of their two-day visit to Ankara. The delegation is one of two US delegations in Ankara for talks with Turkish authorities.

Adil Öksüz and Batmaz, the key suspects in the coup attempt, allegedly visited the US a few days before the coup. Turkey has sent several files to the US to beef up its evidence for the extradition of Gülen.

The new files also reportedly include e-mails between Gülen’s aides in Pennsylvania and Batmaz.

Earlier, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül had said Ankara was “hoping” for Gülen to be extradited to Turkey. “In Turkey, the death penalty does not exist. We are telling [US officials] there is no obstacle to the extradition taking place,” Gül said on Dec. 30.

“Our demand [for Gülen’s extradition] has not been officially rejected. As we find new evidence, we send it to the US. Administrative and criminal investigations are ongoing,” Gül claimed.

Turkish authorities “proved” the role of the Gülen movement in the failed coup attempt by sharing digital data during a meeting with US officials on July 13, 2018, state-run Anadolu Agency claimed.

The US started to make its own assessment after receiving the data, the agency said.

Gülen has repeatedly denied any involvement in the failed coup attempt.

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