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Turkey Formally Requests US Arrest Alleged Leader of July Coup Plot

  • VOA News

US based cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, July 29, 2016.

US based cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, July 29, 2016.

Turkish media said Tuesday the country's government made its first formal request for the United States to arrest a cleric blamed for leading a failed coup in July.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly accused Fethullah Gulen of being behind the coup attempt that left at least 270 people dead.

The Turkish reports said the written request to the U.S. alleges Gulen "gave orders and commanded" the operation. Turkish officials have been informally demanding Gulen's extradition for weeks.

The 75-year-old has been living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since 1999 and denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

In addition to trying to get Gulen sent back to Turkey, Erdogan's government has carried out an extensive crackdown during the past two months that included ousting 80,000 civil servants, teachers, judges and others believed to by linked to Gulen or involved in the plot. Many of them were arrested.

U.S. President Barack Obama told Erdogan at a G-20 summit last week that his government is prepared to offer any support necessary to investigate the coup and bring those responsible to justice.

But U.S. officials have said that any extraditions would have to be approved in the U.S. court system.

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