August 20, 2016

Al-Arabiya: Gulen confident US will not extradite him

In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya News Channel, Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen said he was confident that the United States will not extradite him after Turkey formally submitted its request earlier in the week.

Gulen, a cleric in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has been blamed for the failed coup attempt against his rival and the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The United States has a reputation in the world as a country that upholds the rule of law. So I trust they will follow the proper procedures,” Gulen told Al Arabiya’s New York Bureau Chief Talal Al-Haj.

Turkey officially requested for Gulen’s extradition from the US on August 16. There has also been allegations of Turkish parliamentarians visiting the United States and meeting with the Department of Justice, bringing with them 85 boxes of evidence to Gulen’s involvement in the failed coup.

Asked whether the US might cave into pressure, the cleric said there was a possibility. “Of course it is possible for the US authorities to be deceived as well. Technically there is a possibility although I don’t consider that a significant likelihood,” he said.

Nathaniel Tek, the US State Department’s regional spokesman, had told Al Arabiya English that strong and credible evidence would be required to prove the cleric’s wrongdoing.

“There needs to be a set of specific documentation, with evidence that goes directly to our Department of Justice,” Tek told Al Arabiya English. “At that point, what happens is that we review the request, in accordance with US federal law and international law, and then we’ll make a decision at that point.”

Criticizing the purge

Gulen criticized the current purge by Erdogan’s government of people suspected to have links, even remotely, to his movement.

On Friday, Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 84 university academics suspected of links with Gulen in the latest figures that includes the detention of 40,000 state employees, issuing arrest warrants for 187 suspects including CEOs as part of the operation in the country’s economic capital of Istanbul, firing 2,360 police officers, more than 100 military personnel and 196 staff in the BTK technology authority.

“Turkey has lost a lot of credibility in the Muslim world, from outside perspective or apparent perspective, there is no benefit to this attempt, or the actions in the aftermath. But the purges are continuing and as long as they continue these purges they will not be able to get sympathy from the world opinion,” Gulen said.

Asked on whether there would be a solution to the situation in Turkey, Gulen told Al Arabiya that further isolation would only serve alienate the country from its neighbors.

With regard to the solution to Turkey, I think only when Turkey’s loneliness in the world reaches a certain level, when there are some actions from NATO or the European Union, that might change the picture, or if they experience a division within their own party, some people cannot tolerate what is going on anymore that might stop their oppression,” Gulen said.

Published on Al-Arabiya, 19 August 2016, Friday