Turkey Demands US Hand Over Islamist, Kerry Says Not So Fast

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated Wednesday that Turkey must provide serious evidence that Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen was involved in the attempted overthrow of the government before the U.S. will extradite him to Ankara.

“With respect to Mr. Gulen, we have consistently said to our friends in Turkey and allies in Turkey that we need evidence,” Kerry said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. “We have a very strict set of requirements that have to be met for an extradition to take place.”

Kerry said he clearly told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosoglu over the phone that he doesn’t want to review a series of allegations. Rather, Kerry said he wants to see some evidence.

“Please don’t send us allegations, send us evidence,” Kerry said recently on the phone with Cavosoglu. “We need to have evidence which we can then make a judgment about.”

In the aftermath of the apparent attempted overthrow of the Turkish government, authorities in Ankara have pushed for the U.S. to hand over Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric who has lived in the mountains of Pennsylvania since 1999. Turkish authorities have claimed Gulen was involved in the coup attempt, a claim strenuously denied by Gulen, who also soundly criticized actions taken to topple the government.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday it’s completely false to suggest the U.S. is harboring Gulen.

Gulen recently said if there’s sufficient evidence to show he was involved in the coup attempt, he will comply with the extradition process.

Since the attempted coup was put down, Erdogan has been busy purging the public sphere of any and all elements deemed a threat to his regime. The New York Times reported Monday that the total of those purged amounts to nearly 18,000 people, a total that has almost certainly jumped in the past two days. In his most recent effort to seize more control, Erdogan banned all academics from leaving the country. He’s ordered all academics who are abroad to return to Turkey post-haste. Those abroad must be back for work Thursday morning in Turkey.

Erdogan has so far removed 1,577 college deans.

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