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Turkey denies ‘ludicrous’ reports of plan to seize cleric from US

Fethullah Gulen [file photo]
Fethullah Gulen [file photo]

Turkey has dismissed what it said were ludicrous reports that Turkish officials may have discussed a plan to seize a wanted US-based Muslim cleric and hand him over to Ankara in exchange for millions of dollars.

In a statement, the Turkish embassy in Washington repeated Ankara’s request for the extradition of the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who it says masterminded last year’s failed military coup, but said Turkey would not operate outside the law to achieve that goal.

The statement followed a Wall Street Journal report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating an alleged proposal under which former US national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son would receive up to $15 million for seizing Gulen and delivering him to the Turkish government.

NBC also reported an alleged December 2016 meeting, saying Mueller’s team was investigating whether Flynn met senior Turkish officials before President Donald Trump’s inauguration about a possible quid pro quo in which Flynn would be paid to do the bidding of Turkey’s government while in office.

Read: Ramping up rhetoric, Turkey’s Erdogan chastises US over democracy

“Turkey and the Turkish people expect the immediate extradition of Fethullah Gulen from the United States to Turkey, so that he can stand trial,” the embassy statement said, in the first official Turkish reaction to the newspaper report.

“As we stated previously… all allegations that Turkey would resort to means external to the rule of law for his extradition are utterly false, ludicrous and groundless”.

Flynn’s lawyer said on Friday that allegations made against him “ranging from kidnapping to bribery” were outrageous and false.

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