Alleged Gülenist speaks at US Congress panel on Turkey

Alleged Gülenist speaks at US Congress panel on Turkey

Alleged Gülenist speaks at US Congress panel on Turkey

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An alleged member of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) was included on the speakers list of a U.S. congressional panel on Sept. 14, discussing the aftermath of the coup attempt in Turkey, at a time when Ankara is pressing the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gülen, the Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher and the main suspect in the coup probe.

Ahmet Sait Yayla, a former police chief who was introduced as representing the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, reportedly denied at the panel that Gülen plotted the coup, and instead suggested that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan themselves were behind it. 

The panel speakers addressing the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats also included Aaron Stein from the Atlantic Council, Alan Makovsky from the Center for American Progress, and Nina Ognianova from the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency reported that Yayla was added to the list just hours before the hearing.

After being appointed to chair the sociology department of Harran University in the southeastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa in 2014, Yayla is said to have left for the United States in November 2015. He has never since returned, citing health problems as the reason for his decision to stay.

The head of the subcommittee, Republican lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher, also said he did not believe Gülen orchestrated the failed coup attempt, and demanded that Turkey produce more concrete evidence for Gülen’s extradition.