United States President Donald Trump has told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğanthat his administration is working on the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, the mastermind of July 2016 coup attempt, the Turkish foreign minister said, informing about an ongoing FBI probe on FETÖ’s tax evasion.
“In Argentina, Trump told Erdoğan they were working on extraditing [Fethullah] Gülen and other people,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told a forum yesterday in Doha, referring to the G20 summit where the leaders met two weeks ago.
The NBC reported last month that the White House was looking for ways to extradite Gülenin order to placate Turkey over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in a development that followed the release of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson. But, Trump had denied the report stressing the U.S. administration was not considering the extradition of Gülen.
Turkey and the U.S. established a working group to work on bilateral legal issues that have long been straining ties between the two allies. Following the release of Brunson, Turkey has begun voicing its demands for Gülen’s extradition and resolving the Halkbank case louder. Trump and Erdoğan met two times in November first in France and then in Argentina where they discussed all the aspects of these bilateral matters.
Turkey does not want only Gülen’s extradition but also the suspension of FETÖ’s activities on the U.S. soil, including the charter schools from which the organization reportedly earns more than $500 million annually. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has launched a probe on FETÖ activities, including its financial transactions.
Turkey may work with Assad if he won polls
Çavuşoğlu also responded questions on the ongoing Syrian civil war and the future of its southern neighbor.
“Everybody would be in a position to consider this if democratic and fair elections would be held,” Çavuşoğlu said upon a moderator’s question whether Turkey would like to work with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he is re-elected in the future polls.
Çavuşoğlu recalled that the international community was working to establish a commission set by representatives of the Syrian government, the Syrian opposition and the civil society whose task will be drafting a new constitution.
“This process must be held under the U.N. umbrella. It should be inclusive,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding Syrians who fled their countries and reside in different countries should also be able to vote.
“Elections must be credible, transparent and democratic. Syrians should decide who will run their country as a result of these elections,” he said.
Europeans ignore Khashoggi murder
On questions about the murder of Khashoggi and Turkey’s probe, Çavuşoğlu reiterated his government’s determinacy in reaching a conclusion but slammed many Europeans countries for ignoring the case.
“Many European countries, who are promoting freedom of media, freedom of expression, are closing their eyes,” he said, adding that Turkey has been in cooperation with almost all prominent countries who were willing to do so.
He also said that CIA director Gina Haspel had visited Ankara and that it is now up to the US and the EU to take further action.
“They have also listened to the voice records … now it is up to them. I am sure they have more information. “They have all the intelligence, they have all the details,” he added.
Turkish minister also reiterated Ankara’s disappointment over the Saudi Arabia’s hesitancy to cooperate with Turkish prosecutors and to hand the suspects to the Turkish courts.
“So far we haven’t been provided any information from the ongoing investigation in Saudi Arabia,” Çavuşoğlu said.
“Their chief prosecutor got everything from us, but he didn’t share anything [with us]. We want a transparent, credible, swift investigation on Saudi side as well.”