After vowing to bring those responsible for building a "parallel state" and attempting a coup during his local election rallies and getting public approval for that, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signaled Turkey is to start extradition proceedings against Fethullah Gülen. Speaking to Charlie Rose on PBS, Erdoğan said that he expected the U.S. would extradite Gülen and started testing the Obama government while making some circles' blood run cold.
The New York Times Editorial Board - we are used to their insistent calls for leaving Erdoğan out in the cold - once again gave the first to call to the U.S. government not to extradite Gülen. Taking heart, circles close to Gülen have started to release similar statements arguing there is no ongoing judicial investigation about him. Speaking too soon and flogging a dead horse, it is not surprising that they are hurrying to forge public opinion at the international level.
The prosecutors in Ankara have launched an investigation into Gülen based on accusations of committing a crime against the Constitution, attempting to overthrow the elected government and establishing and leading a gang. The allegations are serious, extending to spying activities.
So there will be a legal basis for an extradition request once the investigation into Gülen is completed and criminal charges are laid. As Erdoğan stated, Turkey is to start extradition proceedings. After that, the U.S. government is obliged to examine the request under the 1979 Turkey-U.S. extradition treaty. Accordingly, both parties undertake the extradition to be granted if the laws of the requested party provide for the punishment of such an offense committed in similar circumstances. Since the abovementioned accusations require punishment in the U.S., Gülen should be extradited once the evidence is presented.
The requested party can refuse the request if they conclude that the request for extradition has, in fact, been made to punish the person for an offense of a political character or on account of his political opinions. That is why, we are ready to hear louder chants of the Gülenists describing Erdoğan as a rigid leader dragging Turkey into authoritarianism and silencing his opponents harshly.
However, any offense committed or attempted against a head of government or against a member of their families shall not be deemed to be an offense of a political character, the 1979 treaty states. As everybody knows that Erdoğan and all his family was targeted by the organization led by Gülen, the offence committed can't be regarded as of a political character if it is clearly penned to paper.
Besides, the U.S. Foreign Ministry is the authority to make the final decision. In a short, the extradition is a political decision, not a legal one. So Erdoğan's answer to Charlie Rose on his expectation from Washington really matters as he said: "If, someone is a threat to the U.S., and we get that information, we catch him or her and hand that person over. I have done more than 10 handovers like this so far, and I would expect the same thing from the U.S. because these have been attempts to threaten our national security." So the refusal is not a piece of cake for the U.S. If they choose to refuse the request once it is formally filed, how will they look for future cooperation on delicate matters threatening the national security of the U.S. including al-Qaeda?