News / Europe

Turkish Extradition Request Could Strain Relations With US

Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Sept. 26, 2013.
Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Sept. 26, 2013.
Dorian Jones
The news that Turkey will officially request that the United States extradite Turkish Islamic scholar Fetullah Gulen is threatening to strain U.S.-Turkish relations. Ankara insists Gulen is behind a conspiracy to overthrow the government. But analysts warn that Ankara may find it difficult legally to secure his extradition.
 
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that he would ask Washington to extradite Gulen.  Erdogan has repeatedly accused the cleric and his followers of seeking to overthrow the government.

But Riza Turmen, a former European Court of Human Rights judge who is now a parliamentary deputy for Turkey's opposition Republican People’s Party, said that while an extradition agreement has been in force since 1981, it would be difficult to secure Gulen's extradition.

"There is an obligation to effect extradition if conditions are fulfilled, but one condition for such extradition: the person who is requested should be charged with an offense or should be convicted of an offense. Then another condition: the offense for which extradition is requested should be punishable under the laws of both countries. Now, whether these conditions are fulfilled [is] very doubtful. I don’t think there is any charge or any conviction against Mr. Gulen. So I can't really see how there is legal basis for such a request of extradition," said Turmen.

But local media reports claimed Ankara prosecutors have launched an investigation into Gulen. Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Omer Celik said Wednesday that prosecutors were investigating Gulen for crimes against the constitution.  The minister went on to say the investigation was about Turkey's survival. The ruling AK Party accuses followers of Gulen inside the police and judiciary of unjustifiably launching graft investigations last December against family members of leading ministers, with the aim of overthrowing the government. Gulen denies the allegations.

Kadri Gursel, diplomatic columnist for the Milliyet newspaper, said despite the severity of the charges, it would be difficult for the U.S. to secure Gulen's return under the extradition agreement, because the agreement forbid extraditing someone whose conviction for alleged criminal offenses was deemed politically motivated.

"I think this clause of the agreement blocks the way of any extradition. Because the whole discourse against Gulen [is] built on political charges," said Gursel.
 
Washington has indicated it is skeptical about the allegations against Gulen and criticized Ankara for interfering in probes into alleged government graft. But the Turkish prime minister insists his government is threatened by a parallel state led by Gulen.

Such claims helped Erdogan consolidate his electoral base in last month's local elections, said Semih Idiz, a diplomatic columnist for Turkey's Taraf newspaper.  With presidential elections looming in August, Idiz said, Erdogan was playing politics with the Gulen extradition.

"He is maintaining this momentum he had before the local elections, where he was hitting at this parallel structure, and it obviously worked for him and he needs to maintain momentum over the next few weeks and months as he decides what [he] has to do vis-a-vis the presidency.  I think he is just playing politics here. And U.S.-bashing, America-bashing, always brings popularity in this country. There is this problem of anti-Westernism in Turkey, and when America is involved, that peaks," said Idiz.
 
Analysts said Washington was unlikely to extradite Gulen, even if it would take considerable time, possibly years, to do so. But diplomatic columnist Gursel predicted that even if the extradition request was turned down, bilateral relations were unlikely to be seriously damaged.

"What will happen if the United States reject this demand, will there be any sanctions -- I don’t think so. U.S.-Turkish relations are multi-dimensional; there are many aspects of it. And I think Erdogan’s government and [he] himself value U.S.-Turkish relations," said Gursel.
 
But for now Erdogan continues to keep pressure on both Gulen and Washington, noting that Turkish courts have on several occasions honored U.S. extradition requests. Observers say with presidential elections looming, Ankara's pressure on Washington, and its campaign against Gulen and his followers, are likely to continue.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid