The United States has declared that the country is to follow the extradition process of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric whom Ankara routinely blames for woes inside Turkey, including the recent coup attempt, which the cleric has condemned.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest made the announcement on Tuesday after US President Barack Obama and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed Gulen’s status in a phone call following Ankara’s request to extradite the cleric.
“There also is due process to which people who live in the United States are entitled to. And we will make sure that due process is followed as well,” Earnest said.
A decision to extradite Gulen “is a legal decision that is made pursuant to a legal process, part of which is codified in a long-standing treaty between the United States and Turkey. So that’s the process that (we) will follow,” he noted.
The abortive coup began late on July 15 when a faction of the Turkish military declared it was in control of the country and the government was no more in charge.
Tanks, helicopters, and soldiers then clashed with police and people on the streets of the capital, Ankara, and Istanbul.
More than 300 people were killed on all sides in the attempted coup d’état that was gradually suppressed.
Turkish authorities have detained over 7,500 people so far in a massive crackdown and sacked nearly 9,000 people from their posts.
Earlier on Tuesday, Turkey had sent four dossiers to the US on Gulen’s alleged links to the coup plot, vowing to inundate US authorities with evidence of the cleric’s wrongdoing.
“President Obama made clear that the United States is willing to provide appropriate assistance to Turkish authorities investigating the attempted coup,” Earnest said, adding that, “The Department of Justice and the Department of State will review those materials consistent with the requirements of the extradition treaty between the United States and Turkey that’s been on the books for more than 30 years now.”
This is while Erdogan recently suggested that Turkey may reinstate the death penalty, a measure the country abolished in 2004 as part of its effort to join the EU.
The European commissioner for regional affairs, Johannes Hahn, suggested Monday that Erdogan had already been ready for the crackdown.