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 Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs