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Turkish justice minister to visit US to demand Gulen’s arrest

US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen
US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey’s justice minister will meet US Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday to discuss Ankara’s request for the extradition and provisional arrest of Fetullah Gulen, the US-based alleged mastermind of last July’s failed coup attempt.

According to a ministry source who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, Bekir Bozdag will share new evidence with his US counterpart on Gulen ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the country between 15 and 17 May.

Bozdag will leave for the US on Sunday and return to Turkey on Tuesday.

Turkey’s Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar, intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin set off yesterday to the US ahead of Erdogan’s first face-to-face visit with US President Donald Trump.

The two leaders are expected to discuss Gulen’s extradition, as well as the developments in Syria and Iraq plus the fight against terrorism.

Trump was one of the first international leaders to congratulate Erdogan over the “Yes” win in Turkey’s 16 April constitutional referendum.

Gulen is accused of being behind the 15 July 2016 defeated coup attempt in Turkey. The Turkish government has been seeking Gulen’s extradition following the botched putsch that resulted in 249 deaths and thousands of injuries.

Turkey’s first official request for Gulen’s provisional arrest was issued to the US in September last year.

Ankara maintains that the overthrow attempt was organised by followers of Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the state of Pennsylvania since 1999, and his organisation that the Turkish government has named as the “FETO terror group”.

Gulen is also accused of leading a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the parallel state.

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