A former police chief who served for six years as head of the Turkish Police Department’s INTERPOL branch said in an interview with the Sözcü daily that Turkey in 2014 requested a Red Notice from INTERPOL for Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric who is accused of masterminding a 2016 coup attempt despite his strong denial of any involvement but was turned down on the grounds that the charges against cleric were political, Turkish Minute reported.
Gülen, who has been living in the United States since 1999, strongly rejects any involvement in the failed coup and asked for an international investigation into the coup attempt in his statement to the media following the failed putsch.
Former police chief Ufuk Önder said Turkey requested a Red Notice for Gülen in 2014 to facilitate his arrest and possible extradition. However, INTERPOL denied the request on the grounds that the charges against him were considered political, thus not within INTERPOL’s jurisdiction.
Önder said that despite Turkish court rulings designating the Gülen movement, inspired by cleric Gülen, as a terrorist organization, INTERPOL refuses to recognize it as such because it considers the terror allegations political.
In the interview with Saygı Öztürk of the Sözcü daily, Önder said that of the roughly 800 people Turkey has asked to be extradited from various countries on terrorism charges, only 20-25 such extraditions have been granted.
Turkey has sent multiple extradition requests to the US government while pursuing a worldwide crackdown on followers of Gülen in the aftermath of the failed coup on July 15, 2016. US officials have expressed on several occasions that although Turkey presented them with a large quantity of information about Gülen, the files didn’t include sufficiently clear evidence of his involvement in the abortive putsch.
The attempted coup was a false flag, according to many, aimed at entrenching the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by rooting out dissidents and eliminating powerful actors such as the military in his desire for absolute power.
The failed coup killed 251 people and injured more than a thousand others. After announcing the next morning that the coup had been crushed, the Turkish government immediately began a sweeping purge of military officers, judges, police, teachers and other state employees, ultimately leading to the dismissal of more than 130,000 civil servants and nearly 24,000 members of the military.
On the night of the abortive putsch, President Erdoğan immediately blamed the Gülen movement for the attempt. He has targeted followers of the movement since the Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption investigations involving then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Erdoğan, who dismissed the investigation as a Gülenist coup and a conspiracy against his government, labeled the movement a terrorist organization and began targeting its members. He jailed thousands, including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation as well as journalists who reported on it.
After the coup attempt, Erdoğan stepped up the crackdown on the movement. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the failed coup or in any terrorist activities.