Extradition of Gulen 'essential in strengthening' Turkish-US relations
The extradition of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and the end of support to the PYD are essential in strengthening Turkish-US relations, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting in the Turkish capital Ankara, Numan Kurtulmus said Turkey was expecting the Trump administration review these two issues.
“One of these is the extradition of [Fetullah] Gulen who is the leader of a bandit gang that committed a crime against the entire [Turkish] population during the July 15 coup [attempt],” Kurtulmus said.
Turkey blames the coup on Gulen and is engaged in a massive purge of his followers from government jobs. Gulen denies any involvement.
Since the failed coup, operations have been ongoing in the military, police, and judiciary, as well as in state institutions across the country, to arrest suspects with alleged links to his organisation.
More than 60 officers and soldiers went on trial in Istanbul on Monday for their alleged role in the failed military coup.
The 28 officers and 34 privates allegedly seized control of Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen Airport on the night of the attempt. They are accused of crimes against the state and face life terms in prison if convicted. Some of the defendants have denied the charges, insisting they were led to believe they were taking part in a drill.
Monday's trial was the first in Istanbul for military officers. Twenty-nine police are already on trial for allegedly failing to protect the president.
“The second fundamental issue,” Kurtulmus also said, “is the end of the support to the PYD.” Turkey considers the PYD a terrorist organisation whereas the US deems it a "reliable partner" and an "effective fighting force" against the Islamic State group.
“We are convinced and hopeful that, especially regarding Turkey and the US relations, the old administration’s mistakes will not be repeated,” Kurtulmus said.