Reveal names of Turkish citizens whose visas were canceled: Justice minister to US

Reveal names of Turkish citizens whose visas were canceled: Justice minister to US

Reveal names of Turkish citizens whose visas were canceled: Justice minister to US

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Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said the United States should reveal the names of all Turkish citizens whose visas have been canceled, commenting on a phone call made by the U.S. Embassy in Turkey to one of the key figures of the July 2016 coup attempt, six days after the failed putsch.

The embassy on March 29 stated that Adil Öksüz, the Air Force head of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), was called on July 21, 2016, as a part of law enforcement cooperation with Turkish officials to stop Öksüz from fleeing the country.

“We revoked his U.S. visa and, as required by U.S. law, tried to call him to inform him of the cancellation,” the embassy said in a statement. 

“They said the phone call was made as a part of a routine procedure. If that’s the case, then the embassy should reveal how many visas of Turkish citizens were canceled until today … They should reveal the number of names. If it is routine, then it should be applied to everyone,” said Bozdağ in an interview with private broadcaster TGRT Haber late on April 3.

He also called on Turkish citizens to state openly whether they had been contacted by the U.S. Embassy or U.S. consulates. 

“I’m calling on 80 million Turkish citizens: Is there anybody whose visas were canceled and who was called from the U.S. Embassy or consulates? If anybody other than Adil Öksüz was called then please come out and say ‘They called me’ or ‘They canceled my visa without calling me,’” Bozdağ said, adding that he does not believe Öksüz was called as part of a “routine procedure.” 

Öksüz was briefly detained after the foiled coup attempt but then disappeared after being released. He is accused of a number of charges, including being among the leaders of the thwarted coup. 

“What does it mean to call him after [canceling his visa]? Let’s not make mock the intelligence of citizens. We may accept the cancelation of the visa as part of our bilateral cooperation, but anything beyond that shows another type of ‘cooperation.’ If the U.S. Embassy wants to remove doubts, it should reveal the names of all those they called so the Turkish public will know. Then we can all apologize,” Bozdağ said. 

He also stated that the “biggest and most important step of cooperation” would be accepting the permanent arrest demand and extradition of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, widely believed to have masterminded the thwarted coup. 

“If you do this, then we’ll see that there is sincere cooperation. The terrorist Gülen is continuing his terror activities against Turkey without any obstacles. If there is sincere cooperation, then cancel Gülen’s visa just like Öksüz. They should also cancel the visas of other FETÖ terrorists,” he said. 

Bozdağ also said FETÖ might have already killed Öksüz “because he knew too much.”

“Our intelligence service and security units are working on finding him. He is being searched with all the capabilities of Turkey and the Turkish state. It’s not easy for someone to move under such circumstances. That’s why I say there are two possibilities: Either he has been executed by FETÖ, which I see as a weak possibility, or he is being hidden by someone. I still believe the latter. I think he is hiding and has not been able to escape. I think there is little chance that he went abroad,” he added.