Reuters interview Gulen, he says he would not flee U.S. to avoid extradition to Turkey


Date posted: July 11, 2017

Matt Spetalnick and Julia Harte

SAYLORSBURG, Pa. (Reuters) – Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric accused by Turkey of instigating last year’s failed coup, says he has no plans to flee the United States and would accept extradition if Washington agrees to a request by Ankara to hand him over.

In an interview in his gated compound in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, Gulen, 79, denied a Turkish government allegation from February that he was preparing to leave for Canada to avoid extradition.

“The rumors aren’t true at all,” he told Reuters.

“If the United States sees it appropriate to extradite me, I would leave (for Turkey),” he said, sitting in an ornate meeting room, its walls lined with Islamic scripture.

President Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government accuse Gulen of orchestrating last July’s attempted coup, in which rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets, bombing parliament and trying to abduct or kill Erdogan. More than 240 people were killed in the violence.

The Turkish Embassy in Washington declined to comment on Gulen’s latest remarks. The White House did not respond immediately to requests for comment. Officials in Ankara could also not immediately be reached for comment.

Erdogan said in May he would pursue “to the end” Turkey’s demand for the extradition of Gulen, who denies any involvement in the coup attempt. But there has been little or no concrete progress on the Turkish request.

U.S. officials have said privately that even though Erdogan has appealed directly to U.S. President Donald Trump on the matter, Turkey has yet to provide enough evidence for the Justice Department to act.

The issue has been a major sticking point in the relationship between the two NATO allies.

Gulen said he hoped that the Trump administration would not allow his extradition to move forward, especially after the resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a White House aide who quit just weeks after Trump’s inauguration.

Flynn, who resigned over his failure to disclose the extent of his contacts with Russia, had performed paid lobbying work that “could be construed to have principally benefited” the Turkish government, according to his lobbying registration filings, and was outspoken in favor of Gulen’s extradition.

Gulen said he felt “pity” for Flynn but acknowledged that the former Trump aide’s departure might have helped his case.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the status of Turkey’s extradition request. There was no immediate response from Flynn’s lawyer to a request for comment.

Frail Exile

Gulen, a former Erdogan ally, has lived in self-imposed exile since 1999, presiding over what he says is a humanitarian religious movement. His followers operate a global network of schools and businesses that has been linked to the Gulenist movement.

His network was declared a terrorist group by Turkey’s national security council two months before the failed coup. Since then, Gulen himself has become an increasingly marginalized figure across the political spectrum.

Following the putsch, a wide crackdown, which the government says is targeting Gulen’s followers, has seen 50,000 people arrested and 150,000 state workers including teachers, judges and soldiers suspended under emergency rule.

Gulen denounced Erdogan’s consolidation of power and the seizure of media outlets, comparing him to a “dictator.” He urged the Trump administration and European governments to do more to encourage the restoration of political freedoms in Turkey.

“(If Erdogan hears) a strong voice from the United States or European Union, European Parliament, Brussels, saying: ‘What you are doing is wrong … your judicial system is not working,’ then maybe he will change his mind,” the cleric said.

European leaders have been critical of Erdogan’s crackdown, but Washington has been more muted in its response. In a meeting in Washington in May, Trump made no mention of Erdogan’s record on dissent and free speech.

The Turkish government has repeatedly said its actions are justified by the gravity of the threat posed to the state by last year’s coup, and rejected suggestions that it is clamping down on dissent.

“The rule of law is upheld in Turkey, and it is not just about gaining more power or punishing the opposition,” Revza Kavakci Kan, deputy chair of Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, told a conference in Washington on Monday.

Gulen praised the political opposition in Turkey and stressed that any fresh effort to remove Erdogan should be through peaceful protest and elections, not non-democratic means.

His followers say his global movement – known as “Hizmet,” which means “service” in Turkish – seeks to spread a moderate brand of Islam, which promotes Western-style education, free markets and interfaith communication.

“I have never supported a coup or an ouster,” he said.

Today, Gulen is an isolated figure in Turkey, reviled by Erdogan’s supporters but also shunned by much of the opposition, who see his network as having conspired over decades to undermine the secular foundations of the modern republic.

Hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets of Istanbul on Sunday to protest against Erdogan’s crackdown, but there was no sign of sympathy for Gulen.

Gulen appeared frail in the interview, walking with a shuffle, and keeping his longtime doctor close at hand.

Source: Reuters , July 11, 2017


Related News

Turkey confiscates $billions worth more than 200 companies in operations targeting Gülen

The government-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) has taken over more than 200 companies as part of investigations into the Gülen movement in the recent past. Akın İpek, the CEO of Koza İpek Holding until the confiscation, said 18 of the group’s confiscated companies alone worth over $10 billion.

Japanese students assist Syrian refugees in Turkey

A group of Japanese university students and professors recently came to Turkey to provide educational assistance to Syrian refugees, according to Turkish news sources on Tuesday. The volunteer group, which came to Turkey through the agency of charity Kimse Yok Mu, consisted of 15 students and professors from Meiji Gakuin University.

In Conversation with Fethullah Gülen (Interview in Asharq Al-Awsat-I)

While it is a movement inspired by faith, this [Hizmet movement] community of volunteers develops and delivers reasonable and universally acceptable projects which are in full compliance with humanitarian values and which aim to promote individual freedoms, human rights and peaceful coexistence for all people regardless of their faith.

Exiled journalist discusses crisis in Turkey

Mahir Zeynalov has the distinction of being one of the first journalists kicked out of Turkey by the government of President Tayyip Erdogan in a crackdown on the media.

Malaysia deports 3 Turks despite warnings of torture risk

Three Turkish nationals who were recently detained over controversial charges in Malaysia have been deported to Turkey. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia earlier called on Malaysian officials to refrain from extradition as the detainees are affiliated with the Gülen movement.

Turkish police brutally torture suspect over Gulen links

One of the most torture incidents reported province is Afyon in Turkey. Afyon Police brutally tortures suspects over Gulen links. One of the victims who is a teacher in this video tells about tortures he went through.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Turkey investigating 4,167 Gülen followers in 110 countries

Turkish imam spy affair in Germany extends across Europe

Reactions snowball after PM likens Hizmet members to Hashishin

MEP: International investigation into Turkey’s rule of law needed

Erdoğan calls on people to show no mercy to Gülen movement

US Congressman: No Credibility In Charges By Turkey Against Gülen

Kimse Yok Mu’s permanent assistance continues in the Philippines

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News