Turkey must pro­vide proof on cleric: Dion

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - MIKE BLANCHFIELD

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.

Stéphane Dion

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