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Turkey asks over 100 countries to extradite Gulen network members

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Paramilitary police and special force members walk outside the courthouse as nearly 500 suspects, including a number of generals and military pilots, accused of leading the July 2016 coup attempt and carrying out attacks from an air base in Ankara, arrive for trial in Ankara, Turkey, on August 1, 2017. (Photo by AP)

The Turkish Justice Ministry has asked 105 countries, including the US and Germany, to extradite more than 800 people affiliated with a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported on Monday that Ankara has already sent out a total of 856 extradition files to various world states, and has so far demanded the extradition of 156 Gulenists from the US, and 257 others from European Union member states.

The report added that the highest number of extradition requests was made to Germany for 77 people, followed by Greece for 64 and Belgium for 36 others.

Following the requests, 116 Gulenists in 27 countries have been handed over to Turkish authorities.

The report noted that Turkey has requested from US officials the extradition of Cevdet Turkyolu, Gulen's close aide, his private doctor Kudret Unal as well as high-profile Gulenists Ekrem Dumanli, Emrullah Uslu, Hakan Sukur and Ihsan Kalkavan.

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 24 people over Gulen link

Also on Monday, Turkish authorities issued arrest warrants for 24 suspects over their alleged links to the Gulen movement, which is regarded by Ankara as a terror organization and has been branded as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

At least 18 suspects were arrested in Turkey after the warrants were issued.

Security sources said the people were arrested after provincial anti-smuggling and organized crime teams had carried out simultaneous raids in the provinces of Adana, Karaman, Ankara, Yozgat, Mersin, Kocaeli and Istanbul early in the morning.

The sources, requesting not to be named, said the suspects were found to be using encrypted messaging application ByLock, which the Turkish government claims to be the top communication tool among members of the Gulen movement.

Former police officers as well as nurses on active duty were among those arrested in the raids.

During the 2016 botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary. 

The 79-year-old cleric has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.

Gulen has also called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of his followers, a move he says is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime.”

Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite the FETO leader, but their demands have not been taken heed of.

Moreover, tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. Many more, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.

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