Turkey must provide proof on cleric: Dion
Canada has rebuffed the Turkish government’s requests for information on the Gulen movement in Canada, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said Wednesday.
Dion said the requests from the Turkish government came before and after last week’s coup attempt to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Turkish president blames U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen as the instigator of the botched coup and he’s moved swiftly against Gulen supporters in his country’s institutions.
Turkey has fired 260 military court judges and prosecutors, tens of thousands of teachers, academics and government employees across several sectors.
Turkey has asked for Gulen to be extradited from the United States, but Secretary of State John Kerry said his government’s response so far is “please don’t send us allegations, send us evidence.”
At a joint news conference with Kerry in Washington, Dion echoed that point.
“About the Gulen movement … we have received requests before the coup and after from the government of Turkey about the movement that is existing in Canada, and we have asked for evidence because otherwise the Canadian justice system cannot address an issue on the basis of allegations,” Dion explained. “We are on the same page.” Dion elaborated briefly in an interview. “It was certainly an expression of concern about this group and its presence in Canada, and an invitation for us to work with them on that. And we just said ‘The ball is in your camp. You need to provide evidence,’” he told The Canadian Press.
His spokesperson, Joe Pickerill, said the Turkish government was not asking to extradite any Gulen members from Canada, as has been the case with the United States, but was seeking “general information” about the group in Canada.
Pickerill declined to provide further details.
A statement from the Turkish embassy in Ottawa said its government has “solid proof ” that Gulen’s organization staged the coup.