Trump willing to work on extraditing FETÖ leader, but noncommittal

Published 20.12.2018 01:41
Updated 20.12.2018 08:00

The United States has clarified its position on the extradition of the wanted leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which is accused of orchestrating a failed coup attempt in 2016, saying that although the President Donald Trump is willing to work on it, there is no commitment on the issue.

Speaking on the issue to reporters on Tuesday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Trump "would take a look at" the possibility of extraditing Fetullah Gülen.

"Nothing further at this point beyond that... nothing committal at all in that process," she added.

The claims regarding Trump's work on Gülen's extradition came Sunday when Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu mentioned the issue.

"In Argentina, Trump told Erdoğan they were working on extraditing Gülen and other people," Çavuşoğlu said at a conference in the 18th Doha Forum in the Qatari capital Doha, referring to the G20 summit in Argentina from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.

A senior White House official spoke on the matter to Reuters on Monday, saying that Trump did not say anything about extraditing Gülen to Turkey during his meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the G20 summit in Argentina two weeks ago.

"While meeting with President Erdoğan at the G20, the president did not commit on the extradition of Fetullah Gülen," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

FETÖ staged the July 15, 2016 coup attempt to overthrow the democratically elected Turkish government, in which 251 people were killed and more than 2,200 people were injured. The terrorist group is also accused of using its members in the police and judiciary to launch two other coup attempts on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, under the guise of graft probes in addition to sham trials launched against its a

dversaries using illegal or fake evidence and trumped-up charges.

The U.S. remains the main hub of FETÖ, where the shadowy group operates hundreds of charter schools and affiliated companies, providing visa and employment opportunities for thousands of its followers. Gülen has lived in self-imposed exile in a secluded compound in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999.

Trump said last month he was not considering extraditing the preacher as part of efforts to ease Turkish pressure on Saudi Arabia over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. Erdoğan said last week Turkey would start new initiatives abroad to target the financing of Gülen supporters. Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu said Monday that the FBI has launched an investigation against the terrorist organization in 15 states, underlining that the U.S. is starting to see the true nature of FETÖ. "The FBI told us that they have begun to see the dark side of FETÖ through their findings," he said. "Moreover, arrests have started in some states, including New Jersey," Çavuşoğlu added.

Speaking at the plenary session of Parliament for the 2019 central government budget, Çavuşoğlu also said Turkey has demanded the extradition of 84 people linked to FETÖ during talks with the U.S.

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