Ankara is set to ask Washington to arrest the U.S.-resident Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen, accused of masterminding the bloody July 15 coup attempt, in order to “isolate” him from his network, while legal proceedings on the demand to extradite Gülen continue, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has told the Hürriyet Daily News.
“Gülen has been using communications and other facilities in the U.S. to give instructions to his network around the world. This is a clear and present threat to Turkey that must be stopped,” Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 25.
He also noted that the immediate aim of Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ’s contacts with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other officials in Washington was to secure Gülen’s temporary arrest, rather than focusing on his extradition.
“The Americans are telling us that Gülen’s extradition is a matter of law and cannot be secured simply by political will. We understand that the judiciary is independent of politics. But we also want to hear an expression of their political will. We want to see a stance demonstrating that they are against the coup attempt in Turkey and stand for democracy. A temporary arrest would be enough to serve that purpose. There are legal grounds for this. The 10th article of the exchange of criminals agreement between Turkey and the U.S., dated 1981, allows the temporary arrest of people for whom arrest warrants have been issued until legal proceedings are completed. It has a 60-day limit but it could be extended,” Kurtulmuş also said.
Before departing from Turkey, Justice Minister Bozdağ said he had “more than enough” material in the files to provide a basis for the temporary arrest of Gülen, which he would give to his American counterpart. Members of parliament from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), as well as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) will be accompanying Bozdağ during his contacts, as they share the widespread view in Turkey that it was Gülen’s followers who committed the coup.
The files against Gülen contain testimonies of military and police officers and judiciary members who have been arrested since the coup attempt and who have applied to access the repentance law, which suggests a reduction in sentences if information given about a crime proves correct. “There are a number of important statements, some of which reach directly up to Gülen himself,” Kurtulmuş said on the files carried by Bozdağ.
Information harvested from the use of the mobile application ByLock gives further support to the Gülen files, Kurtulmuş added. “ByLock is evidence that helps us understand the Gülen network and its hierarchy, especially when combined with the statements and testimonies,” he said.
In an interview published in Hürriyet on Oct. 24, David Keynes, the registered owner of the Lithuania-operated ByLock system, said he agreed that the existence of ByLock in somebody’s phone could be considered as a link to the Gülen network.
“It’s not only Gülen that we are asking for,” Kurtulmuş said. “We have managed to map almost the entire Gülen network in the U.S. and Europe, name by name, which our justice minister is going to share with our American allies. We have respect for their legal system and expect them to understand the immediate danger we are facing.”