Turkey has extradited 12 people to the United States in the last 15 years, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, criticizing the prolonged process over Ankara’s demand to extradite Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, believed to have masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt.
“They demanded 12 terrorists from us in the past 15 years and we handed them over. We showed good intentions and we extradited them. But now when we say ‘it’s your turn,’ they do not give us [Gülen],” Erdoğan said on Jan. 10, speaking at a “Justice Congress” at the presidential palace in Ankara.
He also blasted the U.S. judiciary’s performance in the case of Iranian-Turkish trader Reza Zarrab and former state lender Halkbank manager Hakan Atilla, saying its conviction of Atilla was “political.”
On Ankara’s attempts to get Gülen extradited, Erdoğan cited “4,500 packages of documents” handed over to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“They have no respect for law. They attempt to challenge Turkey over political court decisions handed out in the U.S. But I don’t believe in or respect their rulings,” he said.
Members of what prosecutors refer to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) are widely believed to have orchestrated the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. The Turkish government has repeatedly demanded Gülen’s extradition from the U.S., submitting what it says are files full of evidence proving his links to the putsch.
The troubled relationship between Ankara and Washington, two NATO allies, came under further strain during the New York court case that found Atilla, a former deputy general director of Halkbank, guilty of evading U.S. sanctions on Iran through gold-for-oil trade operated by Zarrab.
Ankara accuses the judge of the case, Richard Berman, and his predecessor, Preet Bharara, of “collaborating with FETÖ against Turkey.”