Image: Fethullah Gulen
A Turkish court has reportedly issued an arrest warrant on Fethullah Gulen, the man it says masterminded Turkey’s July 15 failed coup attempt that left more than 270 people dead. The legal process expected to facilitate Gulen’s extradition from the U.S. seem very close to completion.
The Turkish Islamic preacher was a former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but now lives on a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
Gulen has been accused by Turkey’s authoritarian regime as being the mastermind of all plots aimed at ousting Erdogan from office.
Though Gulen has personally denied any involvement with those perpetrators of violence, the U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Saturday was quoted as saying the United States would support investigations to determine who instigated the attempted coup and where its support originates.
Before Turkey formally requests Gulen’s extradition, the U.S. said it needed further evidence of his involvement in the coup attempt, and now this is it.
Gulen has long been sought by the Turkish government for what officials say is illegal activity. Al Jazeera reports:
In the past, he has been accused of being the leader of an organisation that illegally tapped into the conversations of Erdogan and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Turkey has designated Gulen’s movement, which runs charities, schools and businesses across the world, as a “terrorist organisation” and has launched a widespread crackdown on suspected members since the failed coup.
Turkey has cracked down on civil society since the putsch, arresting some 26,000 people and dismissing another 70,000 people in the military, civil service, media, and academia.
Although Gulen lives on a secluded compound in Pennsylvania, he has maintained influence in Turkey through followers in the judiciary and police.
Turkish media reported recently that 2,745 judges had been removed because of suspicions that they have links to the Gulen movement.