First Published: 2017-11-12

Turkey dismisses reports of Gulen kidnapping plot
Ankara denies ‘ludicrous’ allegations of attempting to blackmail former Trump security advisor in exchange for extradition of US-based cleric accused of masterminding failed coup.
Middle East Online

Gulen's fate is one of several disagreements between Turkey and the United States

ANKARA - 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.

"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.

- FAILED COUP -

Around 250 people were killed in the attempted military coup against President Tayyip Erdogan in July last year. Turkey says Gulen orchestrated the failed coup from the United States, where he has lived for nearly two decades.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said he raised the Gulen issue with US Vice President Mike Pence during talks in Washington last week, but said that the extradition request was being handled by the two countries' justice ministries.

"We are not dealing with Michael Flynn," Yildirim told CNN in an interview. "We are dealing with the government of the United States."

Gulen's fate is one of several disagreements between Turkey and the United States. Turkey has been angered by US support for Kurdish fighters in Syria and the indictment of a Turkish former economy minister over alleged violations of US sanctions against Iran.

Washington has complained about the detention of two locally employed staff at US consulates in Turkey, and a month ago suspended issuing visas in the country. It partly resumed visa services last week, prompting Ankara to follow suit.

More than 50,000 people, including soldiers, teachers and journalists, have been jailed pending trial in a sweeping crackdown following last year's coup attempt.

European allies fear Erdogan is using the investigations to stifle opposition and undermine the judiciary. He has responded by saying that the purges are necessary to maintain stability in a pivotal NATO country bordering Iran, Iraq and Syria.

 

Assad in Russia for talks with Putin

Islamic republic declares end of Islamic State

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home

Rebels say Sanaa airport 'ready to run' after coalition bombing

Greece to amend historic sharia law for Muslim minority

Turkey to ask Germany to extradite top coup suspect

Car bomb in northern Iraq kills at least 24

13 million Syrians need aid despite relative drop in violence

Sudan urged to improve plight of Darfur's displaced people

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’

Palestinian factions in Cairo for reconciliation talks

Turkish opposition daily web editor sentenced to 3 years in jail

Israeli police arrest 33 in ultra-Orthodox draft riots

Turkish lira at new low against US dollar

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup

Gheit says Lebanon should be 'spared' from regional tensions

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies push for unity against Iran, Hezbollah meddling

Syria ‘de-escalation zone’ does nothing to stop civilian deaths

Is a demilitarised Palestinian state a viable option?

S&P affirms good Saudi credit ratings

Israel president faces big backlash over Palestinian scarf

Sudan leader to visit Russia Thursday

Seven years into Libya’s civil war, the chaos continues

Iraq top court declares Kurd referendum unconstitutional

Libya to investigate 'slave auction' footage

15 women killed in food aid crush in Morocco

Lebanon FM will not attend Arab League Iran summit

Syrian forces liberate Albu Kamal from IS

Israel votes to shut migrant centre, deport Africans

Diplomats from Iran, Russia, Turkey discuss Syria

Libya to investigate ‘slave auction’ footage

Piece by piece, Iran moves towards a ‘new empire’

Netanyahu faces new questioning over corruption case

Syria troops, allies retake most of Albu Kamal from IS

EU cuts funding to Turkey in 2018 budget

Lebanon's Hariri arrives in Paris

Egypt opens Gaza border for first time since unity deal

US-Russia rift threatens fragile prospects for Syria peace

'Caliphate' in tatters but IS still a threat