NEW YORK US must resist extradition bid, says Erdogan foe
THE reclusive cleric accused by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of orchestrating a failed coup, said the United States should resist demands for his extradition from Pennsylvania.
“Turkey’s president is blackmailing the United States,” Fethullah Gulen wrote in an opinion piece in The New York Times.
“His goal: to ensure my extradition, despite a lack of credible evidence and virtually no prospect for a fair trial. The temptation to give Mr Erdogan whatever he wants is understandable but the United States must resist it.”
Mr Gulen has lived in Pennsylvania in voluntary exile since 1999. He is spiritual leader of the Hizmet movement, which promotes moderate Islam but which Mr Erdogan has dubbed a terrorist group.
The Turkish president accused him of orchestrating the July 15 aborted coup, in which Ankara said more than 290 people were killed.
A subsequent crackdown has seen more than 13,000 people detained and tens of thousands more sacked from their jobs.
Mr Gulen, who lives on the edge of the Poconos, denies having anything to do with the failed coup.
In the Times, he accused Mr Erdogan’s government of shifting toward “a dictatorship” that was “polarising the population” and “fuelling the fanatics”.
“The US must not accommodate an autocrat who is turning a failed putsch into a slow-motion coup of his own against constitutional government,” Mr Gulen said.
The US government has asked for firm evidence in reply to Ankara’s request to extradite Mr Gulen.
Fethullah Gulen says he is not responsible for orchestrating the July 15 failed coup.