Gülen’s case to be very high priority: US envoy
ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
AA photoEvaluating the case for the extradition of U.S.–based cleric Fethullah Gülen, who has been accused of staging the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, is a “very high priority” for Washington, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass has said.
The evaluation “will depend on the scope and quality of provided evidence and how compelling the case [against Gülen] is. But I can assure you that we are committed to reviewing quickly, as soon as we receive the materials,” Bass told a group of reporters before a U.S. Independence Day reception at the consulate-general in Istanbul, commenting on how long it might take U.S. officials to review the documents.
Bass underlined that the process will be a “very high priority for the U.S. Department of Justice” but declined to comment on the future of Turkish-American relations if the latter declines to extradite Gülen.
“The United States government is focused on what we can do together to help Turkey pursue this investigation,” he however stressed.
Bass also raised concerns about Ankara’s steps to dismiss tens of thousands of public employees in the military, police, education sector and civil service.
“We see mass arrest or detentions and mass firings of people from positions of employment in a very rapid period [of] time without a lot of evidence having been presented for those actions. That creates concerns,” he said, while calling to seek “justice, not revenge” in the face of those who inflict harm upon us.
Commenting on how the failed coup attempt affected operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from Turkey’s İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana, Bass said there was still no electricity at the base, adding that the Turkish government had cut electricity at all its air bases in response to the coup attempt.
“The longer it continues, the more impact it will have on operations, which is not to [the] benefit [of] either Turkey or the United States or the other countries that are threatened by Daesh [ISIL] terrorism,” he said.
The defense ministers of Turkey and the United States also discussed over the telephone the situation at İncirlik Air Base on July 19.
Turkish authorities have said coup plotters used the base as the main station for the takeover attempt. Air refueling tankers used in the coup were launched from the base, where 3,000 U.S. troops and a number of U.S. aircraft are stationed as part of the anti-ISIL operations.
The event at the consulate in Istanbul was attended by many senior figures of the province, including Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş, Turkish Armenian Acting Patriarch Aram Ateşyan, Turkish Jews’ Chief Rabbi Rav Izak Haleva and Turkish Assyrian Catholic Acting Patriarch Yusuf Sağ.
During the event the Turkish national anthem was recited by Ramazan Çaysever, the husband of U.S. Consul General to Istanbul Charles F. Hunter.
“Our countries, our democracies, our people and our partners shall overcome these devastating experiences by growing stronger,” Hunter said during his speech at the ceremony.
Turkey has long accused Gülen of leading a “parallel state,” a purported terror group organized within state institutions with the aim of overthrowing the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Gülen is also believed to be behind the failed coup attempt of July 15 and Turkey has demanded his extradition to face trial.
Materials related to the extradition of the cleric have been submitted to U.S. authorities.