Turkish gov’t asks 83 countries to extradite 452 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

The Turkish government has sent 83 countries extradition files for 452 people as part of its massive global post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

“We continue to pursue a resolute fight with FETÖ both at home and abroad,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission, referring to the Gülen movement. “We are pursuing FETÖ terrorists wherever they are in the world. We will bring the FETÖ members to Turkish justice to hold them accountable,” he added.

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement.

“We prepared files on 452 FETÖ-linked figures as part of investigations into senior members of the terrorist group’s overseas presence. We sent files to the 83 countries in which these figures are living,” said Çavuşoğlu.

Çavuşoğlu said that with the cooperation of 21 countries, a total of 104 alleged members of the Gülen movement had been extradited to Turkey to date. He also stated that schools and language centers allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement have been closed in 21 countries. He added that the Erdoğanist Maarif Foundation has assumed the administration of schools in 16 countries.

The Turkish minister also stated that Germany is far from meeting the Turkish government’s demands regarding alleged members of the Gülen movement. In September, Turkish President Erdogan called on Berlin to extradite what he said were hundreds Gülen supporters residing in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany needed more evidence if it was to classify the movement as a terrorist organization as Ankara is demanding.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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