Turkey probes 500,000 digital documents to find more evidence for Gülen extradition
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARATurkey is in the process of probing and analyzing around half a million digital documents seized during the July 15 coup investigation, the justice minister has said, emphasizing that the inquiry would leave no doubts that the putsch was carried out under Fethullah Gülen’s direction.
According to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, who will meet with United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Oct. 26 and 27, Washington has not yet positively or negatively responded to a Turkish request for the temporary arrest of Fethullah Gülen even though the dossier was sent on Sept. 10.
“There are around 500,000 digital documents: Computer records, flash drives, smart phone records, camera records as well as countless written documents that were seized during the operations [against Gülenists]. I know so many questions will find answers after all these documents are analyzed and assessed,” Bozdağ told a small group of Ankara bureau chiefs on Oct. 9 in Ankara.
The Justice Ministry is in the process of increasing its capacity to better probe digital documents, with some technical assistance to also be used while analyzing the documents, Bozdağ said. “I am sure many things will be revealed out of this probe. We perfectly know that the extradition process is a legal one, something we also abide by on extradition requests made by other countries. Even the current content of the dossier we have sent to the U.S. leaves no doubt in mind that this coup attempt was planned and carried out by Fethullah Gülen.”
Noting that there was a comprehensive meeting between Turkish and U.S. officials on Gülen’s case in mid-September, Bozdağ said, “We made it clear that the future of the relationship between Turkey and the United States will be shaped by their decision on Gülen’s extradition.”
‘Nothing will be the same’
Bozdağ said his demand for an appointment from his counterpart in the U.S. had received a positive response.
“Most probably, we’ll go to the U.S. at the end of October to talk about FETÖ [Fethullahist Terror Organization].”
One of the issues the justice minister will raise to his counterpart is Ankara’s disturbance at the U.S. reluctance to implement a bilateral judicial cooperation agreement that stipulates the temporary detention of persons of interest.
“We have an agreement on extraditions. The ninth article of it requires the detention of the person as soon as necessary documents have been sent to the other party. They cite Article 7 of the agreement but this article is not a pre-condition for the implementation of Article 9,” Bozdağ said. “Thank God, we can understand what we read.”
Article 7 of the agreement obliges Turkey to provide necessary evidence on the person whose extradition is sought from the U.S. “We sent our request for the detention on Sept. 10. Since then, we have not received any response, either positive or negative.”
Gülen’s or Turkey’s friendship?
Hinting that the U.S. seems reluctant to hand over Gülen to Turkey, Bozdağ said turning down Turkey’s request would mean that Washington favored the self-exiled cleric’s friendship to that of its longstanding NATO ally.
In the event of a negative response to Turkey’s demand, the ties between the two countries will be severely affected, Bozdağ said. “I cannot say what exactly we’ll do, but it’s pretty sure that nothing will be same in our ties. This is very clear. Whatever al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden means for the American people, Fethullah Gülen means the same for the Turkish people. Everybody should understand this.”
Bozdağ stressed that extradition issues were very sensitive cases and that courts act in line with the political will in many parts of the world, including the United States and Europe. “There will be no negative decision from the court if the U.S. administration displays its will for an extradition. This also applies to Europe. Otherwise, I don’t know anything,” he said.
Turkey to hold international law conference
In an effort to inform international legal circles on the Gülenist network and seek further cooperation with them, Turkey will hold an international conference in Istanbul between Oct. 17 and 19, Bozdağ said.
“This conference will set an important venue to discuss differences between the legal systems of countries and to ensure the better implementation of judicial cooperation between our countries,” Bozdağ said, referring to a campaign launched by Turkey against the Gülenist presence in more than 170 countries in the world.
Some 171 participants from 51 countries will be present at the conference that will include justice ministers from 15 countries and presidents of constitutional courts from 16, Bozdağ said.
The conference will be opened by a speech of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and will be held at Çırağan Palace.