Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating an alleged plan involving former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. and deliver him to Turkey in return for millions of dollars, according to people familiar with the investigation.
“President Erdogan’s suggestion that the U.S. should make a hostage-style prisoner swap for an innocent American imprisoned in Turkey is appalling and will not be taken seriously,” Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said. Brunson’s is not the first case that has resulted in a Western country accusing Erdogan of hostage diplomacy.
The exiled cleric accused by Turkey of orchestrating last year’s attempted coup charged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with seeking to silence critics, as the Turkish leader prepared to push for the preacher’s extradition in a White House meeting with Donald Trump.
Mr Gulen denies any role in the failed coup in July, and US officials have privately said the evidence provided by Turkey has been inadequate, while voluminous. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim recently described the delay as a joke on Turkey.
James Woolsey says he attended a September meeting where other participants, including then-Trump adviser Mike Flynn, talked of moving Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey without going through U.S. extradition process.
Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser, acted as a foreign agent representing the interests of Turkey’s government in exchange for more than $500,000 during last year’s campaign even as he was advising Mr. Trump. Mr. Flynn was assigned to investigate Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in Pennsylvania.
Sacrificing Gülen, however, will not bring Turkey in from the cold. While the pretext might have been rooting out Gülen’s followers, the reality is that Erdogan has used the purge to target secularists, liberals, and those officers whose training and experience in NATO he believes make them prone to oppose his vision and goals for Turkey.
National War College professor Taşpınar says extradition remains unlikely because Ankara has presented no concrete evidence directly implicating him in the coup attempt. “I think what [Washington] should do is to basically tell the Turks they need a smoking gun. They need much clearer evidence, which is not there yet,” he says
Turkish news outlets lit up this weekend after a former Republican lawmaker published an op-ed at The Hill calling on the U.S. government to extradite Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Muslim cleric whose return to Turkey is an obsession for the NATO nation’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The family that owns Dogan Holding has long been influential in Turkey’s secular establishment and ran afoul of Mr. Erdogan’s Islamist-based A.K.P. Party in 2009. With the company targeted again and fearful of losing more assets, the newspaper Hurriyet is widely seen as pulling punches to appease Mr. Erdogan by firing journalists and quashing even mildly critical news stories.
Turkey’s Erdogan regime has arrested an American pastor whom they could use in a possible exchange for the Turkish Muslim cleric they want to extradite from the United States. The Muslim Fethullah Gülen is accused by the Erdogan regime to be the mastermind behind the latest failed-military-coup intending to depose the president.
“Turkey desperately wants the U.S. government to extradite an imam [Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen],” Maddow explained. “They [the U.S.] have said that they are not extraditing him. But if that’s what you wanted, what if you could squeeze the personal financial interests of the American president as a way to get what you want from the American government?”
If the executive branch were to interfere too forcefully in the Gülen extradition case now, it would only confirm Turkish leaders’ belief that the U.S. system operates on the same corrupt terms as Turkey’s. This would fundamentally affirm Erdoğan’s view that democracy as a value and a practice is a purely cynical discourse used by Western powers to harm Turkey.