The ever-growing issue of Gülen’s extradition

The ever-growing issue of Gülen’s extradition

The non-extradition of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher, has become an ever-growing issue between Turkey and the United States. At a time when Turkey badly needs to “increase its friends,” this constitutes a serious issue. 

Authoritarian regimes are able to say “I am extraditing” or they may issue a challenge by saying, “No, I am not returning him.” Under the rule of law, on the other hand, extradition takes time and it is the courts that make the final decision. 

In terms of U.S. law, Gülen needs to be extradited because as according to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), “hard evidence” is not needed for extradition; proof showing that there is “reasonable doubt” is adequate. There is plenty of “reasonable doubt” that calls for Gülen’s extradition such as illegal organizations in critical institutions of the state such as the police and the judiciary, as well as the coup attempt on July 15. 

If the person to be extradited on certain charges objects to the decision, then the final decision is made by the court both in areas under ECHR jurisdiction and U.S. law. 

For instance, even though Greece officially declared it wants to return the putschists who asked for asylum, the court will make the final decision.   

Our law was also like this but Article 18 of the Turkish Penal Code on extradition was annulled on April 23, 2016, with a separate law, strengthening the government’s initiative on extraditions.   
But the European and American laws did not change. 

“Eighty-five boxes of files have been sent; more files are being sent,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 12 in regard to Gülen’s extradition. The Justice Ministry said they had sent “bags” of evidence. Studying so many files will extend the time needed for an extradition, won’t it? 

There has been a principle in law since Rome: “Evidence should be weighed but not counted.” 

First, the strongest, basic proof should have been sent first. Second, if the diplomacy of the business was managed adroitly, wouldn’t it have been better?   

When I say diplomacy, it is the relations with the U.S. and the EU. The extradition of Gülen should not be a topic of argument; it should be explained well in legal parlance. 

The respectable law professors who have prepared the penal and procedural codes during the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) governments could have explained Gülen’s extradition very well. They continue to lecture in universities, but the government does not consult them anymore.  

Outside those segments who have been programmed against Turkey in the U.S. and Europe, there are also legal people, academics and intellectual circles who have earnestly supported Turkey’s democratization during this government. To maintain Turkey’s image of a state of law in these circles is significant. 

Earlier in the week, a ceremony was held for young judges and prosecutors at the Beştepe Presidential Campus which is the top position in the executive. The president addressed them. This picture will definitely increase disapproval in Europe and America against the independence of the judiciary in Turkey. 

Gülen has become a serious domestic problem in Turkey; because of him, tens of thousands of people have been victimized. His continued residence in the U.S. fuels suspicions and increases the pressures and victimization stemming from the state of emergency.

The Gülen issue is poisoning our relations with the U.S. and indirectly with the EU at a time when Turkey needs friends more than ever. It is evident how we are being excluded in the military operation for Mosul; I am concerned how this will translate in the long term. 

If Gülen feels the guilty conscious and turns himself in, then the domestic and external issues stemming from him would disappear.  

Without turning it into an arm-wresting match, the issue of Gülen’s extradition should be concluded by making very good use of the sound and recognized methods of law.