Turkey formally requests extradition of Pennsylvania-based cleric accused of inciting coup

Turkey has formally requested that the US extradite Pennsylvania-based preacher Fetullah Gulen back to Turkey for his alleged involvement in inciting last week’s failed coup, according to Turkish state media.

“We have sent four dossiers to the United States for the extradition of the terrorist chief,” Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim said during a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkish media reported.

Over the weekend, Ankara called on the US to extradite the Turkish preacher and political figure, who self-exiled to Pennsylvania in 1999. Erdogan has accused Gulen of orchestrating the coup from afar, and he warned that anyone who harbours such plotters would be considered “at war” with Turkey.

Kerry categorically denied that the US had anything to do with the failed uprising, and responded that the US would “welcome” a request from Turkey to extradite Gulen granted Ankara provided evidence of his involvement in the attempted coup.

Washington and Turkey have an extradition agreement, but Gulen would presumably be charged with treason, which does not appear to be listed as an “extraditable” act, CNN noted.

Gulen, for his part, has denied any knowledge of or involvement in the uprising.

“I condemn and reject in the strongest terms the attempted coup,” he told reporters from outside his home in Pennsylvania over the weekend.

Tension between the US and Turkey has escalated dramatically in the wake of Ankara’s far-reaching crackdown on those suspected to have been involved in Friday’s failed military coup.

In addition to more than 2,000 members of the Turkish armed forces, Ankara has ordered that at least 50 high-level civil servants, 8,000 police officers, and 30 regional governors with alleged ties to the coup plotters be either arrested or fired, according to Reuters.

On Tuesday, Ankara ordered the resignation of more than 1,500 university deans across the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also told a crowd of supporters Saturday night that the country would look into reinstating the death penalty for the “traitors” who plotted to overthrow his government.

On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned Turkey against abandoning due process in its crackdown, implying that Turkey’s NATO membership would be scrutinised if the country began to “backslide” away from its democratic principles.

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