Turkey denies allegedly attempting to use unlawful means to extradite FETÖ leader

ANADOLU AGENCY
ANKARA
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The Turkish government has rejected allegations that Ankara attempted to extradite the leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), Fetullah Gülen, the mastermind of the failed July 15 coup attempt, through unlawful methods, after a report in the Wall Street Journal claimed that investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the Russia investigation discovered that former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn met with Turkish representatives twice last year.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım pointed out that Turkey has only dealt with the U.S. in the scope of the rule of law regarding the issue of Gülen's extradition, dispelling allegations that Turkey would use illegal means to extradite the former preacher.

Speaking in a televised interview with Fareed Zakaria, Yıldırım denied that Turkey had received assurance from former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn on the extradition of the FETÖ leader.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, Michael Flynn met with Turkish officials twice last year and was offered $15 million to kidnap Gülen from his complex in Pennsylvania.

Regarding the issue, Prime Minister Yıldırım pointed out, "We [Turkey] are not dealing with Michael Flynn," adding that Turkey's Ministry of Justice as well as the U.S. State Department remain in communication to make progress regarding the issue.

When asked about the arguments that "the evidence provided by Turkey is not particularly strong and not conclusive," Yıldırım pointed to the similarities between Turkey and the U.S., namely Turkey's July 15 coup attempt and the 9/11 attack in New York, saying that no one asked the U.S. whether they had any evidence that al-Qaeda had conducted the attack. "When President George W. Bush announced that the U.S. was under attack, Turkey was the first country to offer help and send troops to Afghanistan," Yıldırım said.

The Turkish Embassy in Washington released a statement on Saturday rejecting that Turkey would use unlawful methods to extradite the FETÖ leader. The statement stressed, "All allegations that Turkey would resort to means that are external to the rule of law for the purpose of extraditing Gülen are utterly false, ludicrous and groundless."

The statement also emphasized: "The fact that Fetullah Gülen, the mastermind behind all these crimes, continues to find refuge in the U.S remains a perplexing and deeply frustrating [reality] for the Turkish people."

Turkey has repeatedly demanded that the FETÖ leader be extradited from the U.S. where he is suspected of having orchestrated last year's coup attempt that resulted in the deaths of 249 innocent civilians and injured 2,195 people. Even though Turkey has provided the U.S. with various pieces of evidence in regards to the issue, it is still unknown whether the extradition will take place or not. Ankara claims that U.S. authorities have turned the issue into a political tool being used against Turkey.

The lawyer representing former White House National Security Advisor Flynn has condemned the "outrageous" and "false" allegations that Flynn had discussed a bribe with Turkish representatives to have Gülen kidnapped.

Robert Kelner, Flynn's top attorney, said in a statement on Friday that so far he has tried to avoid responding to every allegation and rumor being raised against his client Flynn, who is a retired, three-star military general, out of respect for the ongoing investigation regarding Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

"However, today's news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule. They are false," he said.

Kelner's statement came after a story was published in the Wall Street Journal claiming that investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the Russia investigation had learned that Flynn had met with Turkish representatives twice last year. Flynn has been a key figure in Mueller's Russia investigation.

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