Justice Minister in US over Gülen’s extradition demand
ANKARAJustice Minister Bekir Bozdağ is set to hold a meeting with U.S. counterpart to discuss the extradition and provisional arrest of Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, accused of masterminding the July 2016 coup attempt.
Prior to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s official visit scheduled to be held between May 15 and 17, Bozdağ departed to the U.S. to discuss the details of Ankara’s demand for the extradition of Gülen on May 7.
“The subject of our meeting will be the provisional arrest of the terrorist head Fethullah Gülen and his extradition. We will eventually take them from where they are placed and bring them to Turkey to deliver them to the Turkish judiciary,” Bozdağ said on May 6 in the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat.
“Some of the prosecutors who are assigned to these files will accompany me in the visit and there will also be some technical meetings,” he added.
During the meeting scheduled for May 8 in Washington, Bozdağ is expected to inform U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions about four separate files previously sent by Ankara over the extradition and provisional arrest of Gülen.
He said he will also present new evidence supporting the accusation that Gülen was involved in the attempted takeover, as the process between Turkish and U.S. judicial authorities continues.
On July 19, 2016, Ankara had sent four dossiers on Gülen’s extradition at Washington’s request and demanded his temporary arrest in September 2016.
A U.S. delegation from the Justice Department came to Ankara at the end of August 2016 to discuss the issue and Bozdağ met with his former counterpart Loretta Lynch in Washington in October 2016.
In February, the minister had sent a letter to Sessions regarding Gülen’s extradition and the two also held a phone conversation on March 22.
Extradition demand of Ankara
Turkey has long demanded the extradition of Gülen from the U.S. but has not yet received a positive response. The evidence provided by Turkey to the U.S. Justice Department have reportedly not yet been transferred to the federal court that needs to examine Ankara’s request, unsettling the Turkish government.
In the meeting Bozdağ is also expected to bring up the issue, reiterating Ankara’s wish to deliver the files containing information on Turkey’s provisional arrest and extradition demand to be delivered to the judicial authorities.
The extradition process involves several federal and local legal authorities including the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Justice Department and lawyers in the district of Pennsylvania. This process usually is expected to take months and the U.S. State Department has the final say in the decision.
Even if the necessary documents are provided, there are conditions in which the U.S. State Department may decline the request, such as concerns over whether Gülen will be given a fair trial or be treated humanely. Washington can examine Turkey’s rights record on torture and has the right to set conditions for Gülen’s surrender.
Thousands of legal proceedings on Gülen links to coup
Meanwhile, Bozdağ also stated that legal proceedings on a total of 149,833 people have been launched since the coup attempt over links to the Gülen movement.
Some 48,636 of those people, including 166 generals, 6,810 colonels and officers with lower ranks, were arrested along with 8,667 security officials, the minister said.
Judicial control orders have also been issued for a total of 35,783 people and arrest warrants have been issued for 6,791 people, 139 of whom are soldiers and 364 are security officials, Bozdağ added.