Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reached out to President Barack Obama about extraditing Fethullah Gülen, who he blames for the failed coup on Friday. The White House said:

“The president made clear to President Erdogan that the United States doesn’t support terrorists and doesn’t support individuals who conspired to overthrow a democratically elected government,” according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

He said Obama “reiterated once again the strong commitment of the United States to the democratically elected civilian government of Turkey” and commended the Turkish people’s effort in “defending the government and repelling the coup” last week.

The State Department received documents from Turkey, but did not say if they “amounted to an official extradition request.” It is not easy to extradite someone:

Lawyers at the State and Justice departments would review it to determine if the alleged offense is a crime in both countries and whether it falls within the scope of the countries’ extradition treaty. The request would then go before a judge, who would rule on whether probable cause existed that a crime was committed and that the accused person did it.

If the request survived those tests and is found lawful, it would still need to get the approval of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who can consider non-legal factors, such as humanitarian arguments.

The U.S.-Turkey extradition treaty went into force in 1981 and covers any offense punishable in both countries by more than a year in prison. It does not cover offenses “of a political character,” although it does cover “any offense committed or attempted against a head of state or a head of government,” according to the treaty.

Gülen resides in Pennsylvania due to a self-imposed exile in 1999 to escape possible charges against the then-Turkish government. He remained an ally of Erdoğan until 2013 when the courts launched a corruption investigation against the then-prime minister. Erdoğan quickly squashed the investigation, but blamed his old ally “for orchestrating the scandal.”

In the same phone call, Obama urged Erdoğan to show restraint and respect human rights during the crackdown. Since Friday, the government has purged almost 53,000 people.

  • 15,200 teachers, canceled 21,000 licences
  • 1,557 deans asked to resign
  • 100 at the National Intelligence Organization (MİT)
  • 257 at the Prime Ministry
  • 35,000 soldiers, police, judges, and civil servants
  • 492 from the Religious Affairs Directorate
  • 393 from Family and Social Policies Ministry
  • 16 from Development Ministry
  • 1,500 at the Finance Ministry

The president insists Gülen and his followers did the coup even though he has not presented any evidence to show his conclusions:

“We have more than enough evidence, more than you could ask for, on Gulen,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters outside parliament. “There is no need to prove the coup attempt, all evidence shows that the coup attempt was organized on his will and orders.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said the government will do everything they can to eliminate the Gülen movement from Turkey:

“I’m sorry but this parallel terrorist organisation will no longer be an effective pawn for any country,” Mr Yildirim said, according to Reuters news agency.

“We will dig them up by their roots so that no clandestine terrorist organisation will have the nerve to betray our blessed people again.”


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.