Petition for Gülen's extradition from US earns White House response

Published 12.08.2016 22:20
Updated 12.08.2016 22:23
A group of activists rallied outside Gülen’s compound in Pennsylvania earlier this month following July 15 coup attempt.
A group of activists rallied outside Gülen’s compound in Pennsylvania earlier this month following July 15 coup attempt.

Among civilian efforts to get Fethullah Gülen extradited from the U.S., which Ankara has repeatedly sought, activists managed to gather 100,000 signatures in a petition to extradite Gülen, the leader of the Gülenist Terrot Group (FETÖ), which Ankara blames for the coup attempt in Turkey. The petition on the White House website reached 100,000 signatures, which means it will be granted a response from Washington.

A press conference was held in New York to announce the result of the petition by activists who are members of the Turkish-American community. Cahit Oktay said they had one more week to collect signatures, but overwhelming interest helped them collect signatures before the deadline.

İbrahim Kurtuluş, another activist, said the United States should unconditionally extradite Gülen to Turkey.

Gülen, who has arrest warrants in a number of cases in Turkey, remains the nation's most-wanted man for his alleged role in the coup attempt on July 15 in which hundreds of civilians, police and military officers were killed by a military junta loyal to him. Ankara has asked for his extradition, but has expressed disappointment over comments from Washington officials, which it sees as expressing reluctance for his extradition. Kurtuluş said that Turkey was an important strategic ally of the United States and that the Turkish public sought justice. "We call President [Barack] Obama to side with NATO ally Republic of Turkey. Like former President George W. Bush said: 'Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,' " Kurtuluş said. He added that the Obama administration should understand the seriousness of the situation, while calling on fellow Turkish-Americans to tell local politicians about Gülen and his extradition. He recalled post-9/11 ads in New York that urged the public to "say something if they see something" and said they saw "a terrorist residing in the Poconos," and urged authorities to do something about it. This refers to the Pocono region in Pennsylvania, where Gülen lives on a property owned by a Gülenist organization. Gülen has lived in the United States since 1999 in self-imposed exile.

The petition reads: "On July 15, 2016 there was a coup attempt to overthrow the legitimately and democratically elected government of Turkey. Since then, it has become clear that the perpetrators were a small group of soldiers loyal to Fethullah Gulen and his FETO terrorist organization. Turkey has been and is our most dependable and long-time ally in the Middle East. Gulen has been classified a terrorist by our allies in Turkey. The coup attempt in Turkey has been stopped with the courageous outpouring of our friends, the Turkish people. Please help me to convince our president and our government that we as the United States should work with democratically elected authorities and governments. I would like our government to stop providing a safe haven to Fethullah Gulen and I want him delivered to Turkey."

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