ANKARA : Turkey will launch proceedings to seek the extradition of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen from the United States, local media quoted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying Tuesday.
Erdogan said a legal procedure “will begin” for the extradition of Gulen, a former ally whom the prime minister now accuses of masterminding a corruption scandal aimed at unseating the government. The prime minister’s comments came a day after he told US broadcaster PBS in an exclusive interview that he wants President Barack Obama to deport Gulen and send him back to Turkey.
In the interview, Erdogan said he hopes Washington would deliver on the issue as a “model partner” should. “At least they should deport him,” he said.
The Gulen movement was a key backer of Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) when it first came to power in 2002.
The two were allied with the aim of taming the influence of Turkey’s once-powerful military which staged three coups since 1960 as the self-declared guardians of the secular state.
But the alliance shattered after December police raids which saw dozens of Erdogan’s key business and political allies detained on allegations of bribery.
Erdogan, who has dominated politics for 11 years, has repeatedly accused so-called Gulenists - many of whom hold key posts in the police and judiciary - of being behind the graft probe and retaliated by sacking thousands of police and prosecutors.
After his party scored a crushing victory in last month’s local polls, Erdogan hinted that he would take steps against the movement.