Gülen issue raises questions over US involvement in coup plot: Turkish PM
AA photoThe fact that Fethullah Gülen, the man accused by Ankara of orchestrating the failed coup attempt on July 15, still resides in Pennsylvania raises question marks over U.S. involvement in the coup plot, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has told the British press.
The United States, meanwhile, has insisted on “concrete evidence” linking Gülen to the plot as a condition to extradite him.
“Turkey and the U.S. have had friendly, amicable relations, [they have been] allies and strategic partners for a very long time, and we do not believe that they [the U.S.] are going to stand by the leader of this terrorist organization,” Yıldırım said in an interview with The Guardian published July 26.
Turkey is a NATO member and hosts the İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana where U.S. operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are conducted.
Ankara accuses Gülen, who had been a close ally of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan until recently, of infiltrating public institutions and creating a “parallel state” with the aim of toppling the country’s democratically elected government.
For its part, Washington demanded “solid evidence” linking Gülen – who has been residing in the U.S. since 1999 – directly to the coup plot instead of secondary evidence or allegations. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, said “legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny” would be required of Turkey for Gülen’s extradition.
“The files pertaining to their [Gülenists’] involvement in this coup attempt have not been sent yet. They will be sent and will leave no doubt whatsoever as to their involvement in this,” Yıldırım said, adding the coup plotters started to “sing like hummingbirds” after the attempt failed.
In a separate interview, this time with The Wall Street Journal published on July 26, Yıldırım said Ankara was “heartbroken” over Washington’s attitude with regards to Gülen’s extradition.
“The evidence is crystal clear. We know the terrorist cult responsible for vicious attacks against us and the Turkish people,” Yıldırım said. “We are heartbroken at the way that the U.S. has treated this matter. We simply cannot understand why the U.S. just can’t hand over this individual.”
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Trudeau, a spokesperson for the State Department, defined the extradition process as technical and legal, adding they were going to let the extradition treaty, which has been in effect between the U.S. and Turkey since 1981, “play out.”
Insistent U.S. demands for direct evidence were dismissed by Yıldırım as a formality, adding that the testimonies of the plotters were clear enough.
“America keeps asking us for documents and documents. What documents do you need, when 265 people have been killed, bombed from jets and run over by tanks?” he asked. “The evidence is clear. We have testimony by suspected members of the coup that they took orders from this person [Mr. Gülen].”
The Turkish government has sought the extradition of Gülen for over two years, but this was the first time a formal request had been made on the issue which has strained Turkish-American ties.