Turkey is determined to pursue all legal means in the extradition of the Gülenist Terror Group's (FETÖ) leader and mastermind of 2016's failed coup, Fetullah Gülen, from the U.S., believing that the extradition must happen if the country respects the rule of law. "We believe that the extradition will happen and should happen. If you are a state of law, you will do it," Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül said in a broadcast on the Habertürk channel late Tuesday. Gülen, the top coup plotter of the July 15, 2016 putsch attempt, has been living in self-imposed exile in a luxurious retreat in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, since 1999.
Ankara has long been pushing for his extradition, which is one of the sticking points in relations between the two NATO allies, but its efforts have remained unanswered so far.
Reminding viewers that Turkey has sent seven extradition requests for Gülen to Washington, Gül underscored that there has been little progress in the deportation process but Ankara will pursue every legal remedy on the matter.
Gülen was already facing criminal investigations in Turkey related to his group when the coup attempt that took place in 2016. Ankara pressed Washington for his extradition after the coup attempt, sending hundreds of folders full of evidence implicating Gülen and FETÖ in the coup attempt. The U.S., on the other hand, has been reluctant to extradite him since the U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, claiming that there is insufficient evidence to associate him with the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Under normal circumstances, Gülen should have already been arrested since Turkish authorities issued an official request for his extradition under the 1979 treaty between the U.S. and Turkey.
However, the FBI has recently started investigating FETÖ's network in the U.S. in 15 states, especially charter schools, and has already made arrests in New Jersey. Accordingly, a delegation from the U.S. arrived in Turkey on Jan. 3 to discuss a joint investigation into the matter and possibly the deportation of Gülen.
Stressing that the fight against FETÖ is still continuing, Gül said that they will bring the curtain up for a new era to establish a new reliable judiciary that was previously disrupted by the terrorist organization.
"We are struggling to ensure that there is no parallel structure in this country, or a state within a state. This issue is not unique to X party or Y party. The nation can only govern the state and shape it in line with their demands," Gül added.
FETÖ is accused of staging the July 15 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 the judiciary to launch two other coup attempts on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 in 2013 under the guise of graft probes, in addition to sham trials launched against its adversaries using illegal or fake evidence and trumped-up charges.