Dozens of members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) have been brought to Turkey over the past five years, but the country’s pursuit of justice against the terrorists behind the 2016 coup attempt prevails. Orhan Inandı and Selahaddin Gülen are the latest senior figures of the group who were nabbed abroad. Although extradition processes for FETÖ members in some countries hit a snag, security forces and the country’s intelligence organization have managed to capture suspects in others. The mission has yet to be fully accomplished, however, as FETÖ’s senior cadres still enjoy freedom across the globe.
The latest names to be delivered to Turkish justice were Inandı, accused of serving as the terrorist group’s leader in Central Asia, and Gülen, a senior figure who is related to the group’s leader, Fetullah Gülen. Inandı was brought in from Kyrgyzstan and Gülen was reportedly captured in Kenya, with operations coordinated by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT).
More than 100 countries have been sent extradition requests from Turkey for the return of the group’s members. Selahaddin Gülen, who fled the country with the help of group’s members in Turkey, was captured in May and arrested on charges of running a criminal organization. Selahaddin Gülen collaborated with authorities and provided the names of Fetullah Gülen's close circle in his compound in Pennsylvania, United States. This week, Inandı, who runs schools and a foundation tied to FETÖ and is accused of being “Central Asia chief” of the group, was brought to Turkey from Kyrgyzstan.
Other prominent names of the terrorist group nabbed in MIT operations include Gürbüz Sevilay and Tamer Avcı. Both suspects have pending arrest warrants and were brought to Turkey from Uzbekistan in February. Sevilay was also linked to the PKK terrorist group and allegedly sought to supply weapons to the terrorist group. Sevilay, who owns a defense company, was aided by fellow FETÖ members to secure bids in tenders in Asian countries. Avcı was an executive in FETÖ-linked companies and was behind an online propaganda campaign against Turkey run by the terrorist group.
In January, Salih Fidan and Samet Güre, two members of the group in charge of its “education” branch, were captured in Ukraine as they attempted to flee the country and were brought to Turkey. Both men also collaborated with authorities like Selahaddin Gülen.
Authorities also captured Ismail Okkalı, Ayşe Özalp and Ahmet Yiğit in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in January and March. These suspects are accused of arranging safe houses for fugitive military infiltrators of FETÖ and serving as handlers for the group’s infiltrators in law enforcement.
In the aftermath of the 2016 coup attempt that killed 251 people, the group's top names, along with soldiers involved in the attempt, fled the country, usually through Greece, seeking shelter in European countries. A group of putschists soldiers had hijacked a military helicopter and flew into Greece, seeking asylum there. Investigations also showed that some key names of the group left Turkey before the coup attempt, on the presumption that they would return if the coup succeeded.
Tens of thousands of people were detained, arrested or dismissed from their public sector jobs on suspicion of links with the terrorist group following the foiled putsch bid. For those abroad, the Justice Ministry prepared extradition requests. Ankara has mostly sought extraditions from the United States and European countries.
The United States is currently the residence of Fetullah Gülen, who spends his days in a secure retreat run by a FETÖ-linked foundation in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, along with several wanted FETÖ members. Washington has long been reluctant to extradite wanted FETÖ members, from the leader to his right-hand man, Cevdet Türkyolu. Other prominent figures from the group, such as journalists Ekrem Dumanlı and Emre Uslu, former footballer Hakan Şükür and businessperson Ihsan Kalkavan also reside in the country. So far, Turkey has sent seven folders full of evidence implicating Fetullah Gülen in a number of criminal cases in Turkey, but Washington has failed to take steps toward extradition.
The first request was sent four days after the 2016 coup attempt and, although the U.S. condemned the illegal operation, it did not respond to requests to deport FETÖ members to Turkey. Turkey has also sought a preventive arrest to keep Fetullah Gülen in the U.S. after reports emerged that the terrorist leader was planning to flee to another country. Ankara says evidence shows that the group formed a quasi-state within the Turkish government and attempted to topple it with the ultimate intent of taking over the state through a coup.
Official figures from 2020 show Ankara has sought the extradition of 156 FETÖ members from the U.S. and 257 others from European Union countries. Germany leads the list of extradition requests with 77, while Turkey has also sought the extradition of 64 suspects from Greece and another 36 from Belgium. Germany stands out among others as senior FETÖ figures have sought shelter there, including Adil Öksüz, who disappeared after the coup attempt was quelled and reportedly fled to Germany. Zekeriya Öz and Celal Kara, former prosecutors linked to FETÖ behind a series of controversial sham trials the group used to stifle critics, were also reportedly spotted in Germany.
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