Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that Turkey expects more support and cooperation from the United States administration on the matter of Gülen's extradition, who is accused of being behind the July 15 failed coup attempt to overthrow Turkey's democratically-elected government.
PM Yıldırım called the Obama administration's support, or lack thereof, 'heartbreaking' in such times, likening the impact of the coup attempt to that of September 11, 2001 attacks that shook the U.S.
"The evidence is crystal clear. We know the terrorist cult responsible for vicious attacks against us and the Turkish people…We simply cannot understand why the U.S. just can't hand over this individual," Yıldırım told WSJ.
Yıldırım pointed out that many coup plotters had already confessed to their crimes during interrogations. Whatsapp conversations confirming the coup plan and videos showing high-ranking police officers getting into tanks that attacked civilians have also revealed that Gülenist Terror Organization, FETÖ, is behind the coup attempt.
"America keeps asking us for documents and documents. What documents do you need, when 265 people have been killed, bombed from jets and run over by tanks? The evidence is clear. We have testimony by suspected members of the coup that they took orders from this person [Gülen]," Yıldırım said.
Before the coup, Turkey had asked the U.S. numerous times to intervene and extradite Gülen.
Gülen currently has five court cases against him, namely on charges of attempting to stage a coup, leaking classified information, forgery and organizing an armed terrorist group. He has not taken part in these court cases and has denied allegations.
PM Yıldırım said that Turkey has sent all files regarding the first four court cases to U.S. officials, each asking him to be arrested. The PM underscored that Gülen's extradition is now more important than ever as his movement has turned to armed uprising to overthrow the government.
However, U.S. officials still insist that Turkish officials have not yet delivered all evidence they had on the matter.
COMMENTS TO THE GUARDIAN
Earlier, Yıldırım also spoke to the United Kingdom's The Guardian newspaper, once again reiterating that there was no doubt that Gülen played a direct role in the coup attempt.
He pointed to claims by those arrested in Turkey in the aftermath of the failed plot that Gülen was involved, repeating that the Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, who was taken hostage during the coup attempt, was offered the chance to speak to Gülen by telephone "so he can also join their movement".
Yıldırım told the Guardian on Tuesday that the U.S. was not involved in the attempt to topple the Turkish government but added: "Of course, since the leader of this terrorist organization is residing in the United States there are question marks in the minds of the people whether there is any U.S. involvement or backing."
"So America from this point on should really think how they will continue to cooperate with Turkey, which is a strategic ally for them in the region and world."
Speaking at his party's parliamentary group meeting on July 19, marking a first since the failed coup attempt, Yıldırım had said that when terrorists attacked the U.S. on 9/11, there was no proof to request terrorists.
"Do not protect this traitor any more, for this has no benefit for you, humanity nor Islam," he added.
He, again, underscored that Turkey has concrete proof showing Gülen's crimes.
Yıldırım has many times said that Turkey had long warned the U.S. administration about "the harmful activities of Fetullah Gülen as well as his terrorist organization," and expected the U.S., an ally, to extradite him. Turkey submitted a formal extradition request for Gülen earlier this week, on July 20.
"I say to the U.S. administration [regarding the extradition of Gülen], a group's attempting to end democracy in a country is proof," he said.
"If our allies still insist on us providing them with concrete evidence regarding the Gülen Movement's involvement in the coup attempt, despite the terrorist organization's numerous attempts to eliminate the elected government and the people under the directives of their leader, we will be disappointed. We may even reconsider our relations with such allies," he had said sternly.
Despite this, the U.S. has also outspokenly expressed support for Turkey on the coup investigation. The U.S. Department of State had previously offered assistance to Turkish authorities in the extradition process of Fethullah Gülen as well as forming a joint team to work through the process.
Last week Secretary of State John Kerry said that, so far, the crisis in Turkey had not affected the country's cooperation with the rest of the NATO alliance nor its role as part of the US-led coalition fighting Daesh in neighboring Turkey.
"I'm sure that people will wonder about allegations of who may have instigated this and where the support came from," Kerry said, in a nod to the accusations swirling around Gülen and his alleged supporters in the Turkish military.
THE COUP AND ITS AFTERMATH
On Friday night, renegade elements within Turkey's military attempted to stage a coup against the government. Although the coup was soon put down by the country's legitimate authorities and security apparatus, some 246 people were killed in the violence, according to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
So far more than 60,000 soldiers, police, judges and civil servants have been arrested, suspended or put under investigation.
The Turkish parliament also set up on Tuesday a commission to investigate the coup attempt, with the backing of all political parties. It will also examine the allegations that the Gulen movement infiltrated the government and instigated the coup attempt.
Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based cleric accused of fomenting the coup plot and previous attempts to oust President Erdoğan, has denied any role in the coup attempt.
FETÖ, the terrorist organization
Gülen, who is accused of leading the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) currently resides in Pennsylvania, United States. His followers are already standing trial in separate cases, but Gülen, 75, refuses to testify in Turkish courts or return to Turkey. The fugitive imam also faces lawsuits brought by Ankara in the United States after Turkey hired a law firm for the legal process in that country.
Prior to the July 15 coup attempt, operations against Gülenists had revealed that members of the movement had infiltrated the police force, judicial system and military with efforts to overthrow the democratically elected government while illegally wiretapping thousands of people, including the prime minister, journalists and other prominent figures. Gülenists run a vast network of schools around the globe but are primarily invested in charter schools in the U.S., which receive government funding but operate independent of the public school system. Dozens of schools associated with Gülenists are facing harsh criticism and are under investigation over the alleged misuse of federal grants and the abuse of a visa scheme being used to funnel foreign teachers into charter schools that are brought from Turkey to live in the U.S.
In May 2015, Turkey declared the Gülen Movement, the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ), a terror threat, adding to the list of many other terror groups like the PKK and Daesh, which are also listed as terrorist organizations by the U.S., and the EU.
Turkey took the illegal activities of the Gülen Movement to the international platform in the U.S. last year.
The activities and operations of the Gülen Movement in the U.S. and Turkey have been scrutinized by a number of American media outlets that question the movement's motives, opacity and why the U.S. government is providing refuge to Gülen, who is currently facing numerous charges in his native Turkey, including treason and an extradition request.
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