Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has confirmed that Turkey will request the extradition of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen from the US.
In order to begin the process of an extradition request, Turkey would first need to issue an arrest warrant for Gulen and produce evidence that he has committed a crime, according to a 1979 treaty signed between the two countries.
The 1979 treaty also exempts all crimes of a “political character” unless they can be shown to have targeted either the head of state or head of government, or their families.
Since the beginning of an investigation into corruption at top level began last December, PM Erdogan has blamed the self-exiled cleric for fomenting a plot to undermine the AKP government and to displace him. Gulen has consistently denied these charges.
When news of the graft probe became public, ministers whose sons were implicated, resigned from their posts and Erdogan sacked or reassigned hundreds of police officers and prosecutors who, he claimed, were linked to Gulen’s Hizmet movement, effectively halting the investigations.
More recently, Erdogan himself was implied as being involved in corruption when recordings of a conversation purportedly between himself and his son, allegedly discussing the need to hide large sums of cash, was leaked by social media. Following the leaks, Erdogan ordered a ban on Twitter and YouTube.
Fethullah Gulen, who now lives in Pennsylvania is widely regarded as the moderate face of Islam.