Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urged Germany to extradite the followers of a U.S based cleric, Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan also said that Gulen’s supporters should be deemed terrorists.
Speaking during the joint conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Fridya, Edrogan stated that thousands of Kurdish rebels and hundreds of Gulen supporters are residing in Germany.
Turkey has labeled the Gulen network and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as terrorists. He also alleged that Mr. Gulen orchestrated the 2016 failed coup in which at least 250 people died.
“With mutual trust, we must catch the suspects and hand them over,” Erdogan said. “This is important from a security point of view for the peace and welfare of our countries.”
Ever since Erdogan overcame a failed military coup in July 2016, the Turkish President has been relentless in purging the state of his enemies.
Journalists, politicians and civil servants who had ties with Gulen and other plotters were either jailed or dismissed.
He has been persistently lobbying for the extradition of Gulen from the U.S but both the Obama and Trump administrations have refused to return the 76- year old cleric because the Turkish government has not provided sufficient evidence to prove his links to the failed coup.
In response, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany needed more material if they were to expel the group that Ankara blames for a failed coup attempt in 2016:
“We take very seriously the evidence Turkey provided but we need more material if we are to classify it in the same way we have classified the (Kurdish) PKK.”
Meanwhile, Gulen has strongly denied his participation in the 2016 military coup. The Fethullah Gülen movement has established private schools and universities in over 180 countries. Erdogan and Gulen used to be strong allies but had a falling out in 2013 after the cleric openly criticized Erdogan for his handling of the Gezi Park protests that year.