Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said Thursday in a press conference that Turkish intelligence has obtained information indicating that Fetullah Gülen, who is in search for a new suitable place to take shelter from the possibility of extradition from the United States, may try to escape to Norway, Belgium, Brazil or Canada. Bozdağ held a meeting with his U.S. counterpart Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Wednesday regarding the provisional arrest of U.S.-based fugitive Gülen. During the meeting, Turkey presented the U.S. additional evidence and documents on its request for the extradition of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) leader Gülen, who is accused of leading the failed July 15 coup attempt that killed 241 people and left 2,194 others wounded.
A press meeting was organized at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. regarding the details of the Bozdağ-Lynch meeting. Responding to a question about whether any progress was made on the subject of Gülen's provisional arrest demand, Bozdağ said the U.S. judiciary will make the decision regarding the issue and asserted that Turkey presented "more than enough" evidence for the demand. Bozdağ said, "These are additional evidences to the file that we transmitted to U.S. authorities about Gülen's actions prior to the failed July 15 coup attempt. The file regarding the coup attempt has already been prepared in Turkey."
"What we request is a provisional arrest warrant, and we presented new evidences concerning the demand," Bozdağ added.
The justice minister underscored the need for the U.S. to handle the situation with sensitivity, taking into consideration that Gülen, with the worry of a possible extradition, has already began to search for other countries to take shelter in. "Turkish intelligence has strong information that points to Gülen's pursuit of Belgium, Brazil or Canada as suitable places to shelter," Bozdağ said.
Bozdağ also gave details regarding Gülen's extradition process in an exclusive interview with the A Haber news channel.
In the interview conducted on Thursday, Bozdağ said that the Turkish delegation drew attention to the importance of international cooperation on terrorism in the meeting with his counterpart.
"Since Gülen's network has been functioning substantially different than any other terrorist organization in the world, we present our evaluation about the structure of it," he said. The minister said there is no doubt that the coup attempt was carried out by Gülenist officers upon the orders of Gülen himself.
Bozdağ said that U.S. authorities should show some empathy toward Turkey on the issue. "Think about it, if Turkey were to shelter the leader of a terrorist organization that tried to assassinate President Obama, bombed the White House and killed 241 Americans, and all at the same time a majority of Americans thought that this person was behind attack, what would the American people think about Turkey. We are expecting some empathy at this point," he said, adding that people from all political backgrounds in Turkey agreed on Gülen's role as the mastermind in both the planning and executing process.
Referring to the ninth and 10th articles of the criminal-return agreement with the U.S., he said that when a state sends an emergency detention request of a suspected criminal, the other state should arrest the criminal as a preventative measure without seeking any evidence.
"Gülen continues to direct his terror group from a state in the U.S. and has been giving orders to his followers. This is unacceptable because we think of the U.S. as an ally of the Turkish state," Bozdağ said.
The justice minister underscored that Turkey respects the judicial process of the U.S., however they are still expecting it to do what is necessary in terms of the criminal-return agreement.
Speaking about the structure of FETÖ, Bozdağ said that the Gülen-led group poses a threat not only for Turkey but also for the other countries where they are operating. He also called for a detailed investigation on the funds that they received from the U.S.
"FETÖ brainwashed our children and raised them according to their secret agenda. Then these followers were ordered to infiltrate state institutions and strategic locations through illegal means, such as stealing major exam questions. They used the taqiyya method - a form of religious dissimulation - to progress. We did not know their real identities. Now, what I said to U.S. authorities is this group also poses a great threat for them," he said.
Bozdağ also drew attention to the information that FETÖ has been receiving $500 million annually from the U.S. government and is operating across the country with 146 charter schools.
"In our meeting with Mrs. Lynch, I suggested that FETÖ's money traffic be followed up. There is no other terrorist organization or mafia that wields in money laundering like FETÖ. I also advised them to investigate whether FETÖ uses state funds in accordance with U.S. regulations or whether they spend the money for their NGOs and PR expenses?" Bozdağ concluded.
Turkish authorities issued an official request for Gülen's extradition on Sept. 13, under a 1979 treaty between Turkey and the U.S.
In late August, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner confirmed that the Obama administration says it has received a formal extradition request from Turkey for Gülen, based on criminal activities that predate the coup and is considering the merits of the request.
Turkey submitted four extradition requests for Gülen which detail at length the formal charges against Gülen. The files include two arrest warrants issued by the 14th Central Criminal Court in Istanbul, another from Bursa's 2nd Central Criminal Court and one from a magistrate judge at the request of Ankara's chief prosecutor. The charges against Gülen include embezzlement, aggravated fraud, the forging of official documents and violations of the right to privacy.
At least 241 people were killed and nearly 2,200 injured in the failed coup, which was organized by followers of Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. Gülen has led a long-running campaign to overthrow the Turkish government through the infiltration of state institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.