Extradition of FETÖ leader will take Turkey-US relations to a new stage
by Daily Sabah
ANKARAFeb 20, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Feb 20, 2017 12:00 am
Even though Turkish-American ties took a nosedive during the Barack Obama administration's open support of the PKK's Syrian offshoot, the People's Protection Units (YPG), and reluctance to process Turkey's extradition request for Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) leader Fetullah Gülen, bilateral relations seem to have entered a much more productive and collaborative phase since Donald Trump assumed office. On that note, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the 53rd international Munich Security Conference on Saturday evening where the two premiers discussed an array of regional issues and reaffirmed their shared commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms.
According to a statement released by the Prime Ministry's press office during the meeting with U.S. Vice President Pence, Yıldırım underlined that Turkey was ready for cooperation to fight FETÖ and process Gülen's extradition, adding that relations between the two states would enter a new stage if the U.S. met Turkey's expectations on this issue.
The extradition of FETÖ leader Gülen, who resides in Pennsylvania, was also discussed between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S President Donald Trump in their recent phone conversation. "In our conversation, I asked for their support on the FETÖ issue. He told me that he would follow the issue closely and give the related units the necessary orders. He told me that he would send CIA Director Mike Pompeo to Turkey on his behalf regarding the issues that we conveyed to them," Erdoğan told journalists on Feb. 16. President Erdoğan also added that Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has held a meeting with the CIA's new director, Mike Pompeo, about FETÖ. "As a matter of fact, two days after our phone call, the CIA director made his first foreign visit to us. I hosted him too. We talked about the issues thoroughly with him. I told him about the events that unfolded [during the July 2016 thwarted coup] with visuals," Erdoğan said while adding that more extensive talk on the issue held between MİT head Hakan Fidan and Pompeo during their meeting that lasted for six hours on Feb. 9.
During the Obama administration, U.S. authorities prevaricated on extraditing Gülen to Turkey despite incontrovertible evidence against the FETÖ leader. However, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ recently said Ankara is optimistic that the U.S. under President Donald Trump would agree to extradite Gülen. "They [U.S administration] know very well that Gülen is behind the coup attempt. Besides, evidence transmitted by Turkey to U.S. authorities proves Gülen's role beyond any doubt," Bozdağ said on Feb. 14 while he adding that he will soon talk to his U.S. counterpart Jeff Sessions about Gülen's extradition.
Rebuffing claims that there is a lack of evidence submitted to the U.S., Bozdağ said "there is more than enough evidence" to temporarily detain Gülen and then extradite him. Under a 1979 treaty between Turkey and the U.S., Ankara has a right to expect Washington to temporarily detain Gülen and extradite him following a legal process. Turkey officially submitted evidence to the U.S. in October 2016 regarding Gülen's network, which formed a quasi-state within the Turkish state and attempted to topple the government and take over the state via a vicious coup.
The failed coup, which left 248 people dead and about 2,200 injured, was organized by Gülen's followers.