Turkey’s justice minister to go to US for Gülen’s extradition

Turkey’s justice minister to go to US for Gülen’s extradition

Turkey’s justice minister to go to US for Gülen’s extradition

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Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, accompanied by lawmakers from opposition parties, will depart to the United States on Oct. 25 to hold talks with his counterpart over Turkey’s demand for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a self-exiled Islamic preacher accused of orchestrating the failed July 15 coup.

Bozdağ is scheduled to hold meetings with U.S. Attorney-General Loretta Lynch on Oct. 26 and 27 in Washington to provide some additional documents that were obtained by post-coup probes in order to substantiate the official request for the extradition of Gülen and to discuss the possibility of a provisional arrest of the cleric. Lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as well as opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmakers will accompany him.

One of the issues the justice minister will raise in the meeting is expected to be Ankara’s disturbance at the U.S.’s reluctance to implement a bilateral judicial cooperation agreement that stipulates the provisional arrest or detention of the requested person. 

Bozdağ had previously indicated that Turkey had seized more than a half a million digital documents during the July 15 coup attempt investigation, emphasizing that Gülen himself was the driving force behind the thwarted plot. Referring to the agreement which Turkey and the U.S. signed in 1981 and which obliges Turkey to provide the necessary evidence regarding the requested individual, Bozdağ said on Oct. 9 that Turkey was to send the request for the detention of Gülen on Sept. 10, but did not receive any response.

“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,” Bozdağ said. “They cite Article 7 of the agreement, but this article is not a precondition for the implementation of Article 9 [which regulates the provisional arrest or detention of the requested person].” 

Turkey is pushing for a quick extradition, suggesting that U.S.-Turkish relations are at stake, but the extradition process involves several federal and local legal authorities, including the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. lawyers in the district of Pennsylvania. This process usually lasts months and the U.S. State Department has the final say in the decision. Even though the documents will be provided, there are conditions under which the U.S. State Department may decline the request. For example, the concerns over whether Gülen will be given a fair trial or be treated humanely are likely to affect the decision. The U.S. can examine Turkey’s rights record on torture and has the right to set conditions for Gülen’s surrender.

Lawmakers will accompany justice minister

In his visit to Washington, Bozdağ will be accompanied by the president of the parliamentary justice commission and AKP lawmaker Ahmet İyimaya and other members of the commission, including AKP lawmaker Hakkı Köylü, CHP lawmaker Ömer Süha Aldan and MHP lawmaker İsmail Faruk Aksu.

Bozdağ will attend several meetings in the U.S. including a seminar on the coup attempt that will be held on Oct. 27 in Washington. Bozdağ will also attend the opening ceremony of a photography exhibition titled “The Rise of the Popular Will” on Oct. 28.