The U.S. Justice Department will send a delegation next week to discuss the issue of extradition of U.S.-based figure Fetullah Gülen to Turkey, according to a source in Turkey's Justice Ministry.
According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, both sides have exchanged letters to discuss the way forward in extraditing Gülen, whom the Turkish government blames for the July 15 coup that left 239 martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
The source said the U.S. Justice Department had first written to Turkey's Justice Ministry, suggesting that both sides should exchange delegations to discuss the extradition issue. Turkey replied back positively to the letter, suggesting the U.S. side should first send its delegation to Turkey. The U.S. Justice Department agreed to the proposal and would now be sending its delegation to Turkey within next week, the source added.
Following the defeated coup, which aimed to overthrow Turkey's democratically-elected government, Turkey sent the U.S. two official requests for Gülen's extradition to face trial.
Turkey's justice minister announced Tuesday a second request to arrest Gülen had been sent to the United States. Bekir Bozdağ told reporters Turkey made the request after a demand for Gülen's extradition had been made on July 19. "We wrote and sent it, saying 'There are serious claims and expressions that Gülen has a hand in the coup attempt. That is why he needs to be immediately arrested. We have intelligence that he could flee to a third country'," Bozdağ said.
The U.S. said Thursday it was still reviewing the documents Turkey sent for extradition of the foiled coup's mastermind. Without going into the details of the process, the State Department said evaluating the evidence that is presented by Turkey took time and was not an overnight process -- although it has been almost 20 days since the first documents were received by the U.S.
Ankara accuses Gulen for leading the putsch through his followers within the Turkish military who formed the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ).
Gülen is also accused of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the parallel state.