Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said during a reception before his departure from New York on Thursday that a court trial is not necessary for US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose teachings have inspired the Gülen movement, designated a terrorist organization and accused of plotting a failed coup in Turkey on July 15.
US Vice President Joe Biden’s office refuted a claim made by Bekir Bozdağ, justice minister of Turkey, who said on Thursday night that Biden had confirmed that substantive information on the involvement of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen had been received by the US as part of an extradition request submitted by Ankara this month.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday demanded at UN speech international action against the US-exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating an aborted coup d’etat against him. Gulen, who fled Turkey for Pennsylvania and has been active in religious dialogue and charity, strongly denies Erdogan’s charges that he organized the July military coup attempt, which quickly collapsed.
In videotaped remarks to the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, Fethullah Gulen said the Turkish government is using the attempted coup to justify persecuting his followers, who he said are being “subjected to oppression and tyranny, molestation and unlawful acquisition of their private properties.
Right now, all critical voices are silenced in Turkey and only the voice of those in power is heard. Consequently both Turkish people and outside observers are misled. The misperception about the coup continues because there is only one voice. The government interprets everything according to their calculations. They are using this event to express the antipathy they already had against Hizmet movement. The coup attempt is serving to justify their plans to persecute Hizmet movement.
The Turkish Muslim cleric accused by Turkey of plotting a failed coup two months ago denounced the repression of his supporters, calling the crackdown “dark pages in world history.” The severity of the crackdown in Turkey has raised concerns in the United States and Europe that Mr. Erdogan has used the failed coup as a pretext to eradicate political rivals and groups he deems a threat to his power.
An alleged member of the Fetullah Gulen organization was invited on Wednesday to speak to a congressional panel on Turkey, a stunning move that could exacerbate tensions between Ankara and Washington. Ahmet Sait Yayla was added to the original list of speakers to address the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.
US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher said during a hearing titled “Turkey after the July Coup Attempt” in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the Turkish government’s claims against a US-based Turkish scholar for masterminding the July 15 coup attempt lack substantial evidence and were not credible.
Turkey has formally requested that the U.S. government extradite Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen from the state of Pennsylvania where he has lived in self-imposed exile for 17 years. Turkey is pushing for quick extradition, suggesting that U.S.-Turkish relations are at stake. But the burden of proof rests squarely on Ankara, and if it cannot sufficiently prove its accusations against Gulen, the extradition request will be refused.
Speaking to a group of reporters in Istanbul on Friday, Bass said although the Turkish government insists that the anti-coup measures it has taken against followers of the Gülen movement are proportionate, it is difficult see that the Turkish government is taking its actions based on a clear criterion. Bass said the US was having difficulty in assessing whether the measures are proportionate and reasonable.
What is going on in Turkey right now reminds me very much of the last few scenes in the first Godfather movie, where Michael Corleone is settling all of the Family’s outstanding business. Corleone is seen in church renouncing “Satan and all his works” while he participates in the baptism of his nephew—shortly before garroting the baby’s father, Carl.
In Pennsylvania, Gülen and his aides scrambled to denounce the coup attempt as it unfolded. “As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt,” Gülen said in a statement, referring to Turkey’s spotty democratic history. The U.S. also was quick to condemn the coup attempt, but not quick enough for many in the Turkish government and media.
Erdogan also made a statement, calling the president of the United States “Barack,” before launching into one of his usual self-serving rants. Typical of a violent Islamist appropriating the moral high ground, the Turkish president agreed that fighting terrorism is of utmost importance. But the “terrorists” to whom he mainly referred were Gulen and the Kurds.