Turkey’s Erdogan calls on U.S. to extradite rival cleric Fethullah Gulen
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he would ask the United States to extradite an Islamic cleric he accuses of plotting to topple him and undermine Turkey with concocted graft accusations and secret wire taps.
Such a move against Fethullah Gulen, whose followers say they number in the millions, would be possible only if Turkey first issued an arrest warrant and produced evidence of a crime, according to one legal expert.
But it would be arguably Erdogan’s most decisive move yet in a power struggle that has posed one of the biggest challenges of his 11-year rule.
Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, when secularist authorities raised accusations of Islamist activity. Since then he has moved from being a close ally of Erdogan to his most powerful political enemy.
Asked by a reporter at parliament if a process would begin for Gulen’s extradition, Erdogan said: “Yes, it will begin.”
In an interview with PBS talk show host Charlie Rose broadcast late on Monday, Erdogan said Gulen may also pose a threat to U.S. security by his activities.
“These elements which threaten the national security of Turkey cannot be allowed to exist in other countries because what they do to us here, they might do against their host,” Erdogan told Rose in the interview, according to a transcript.