- Turkish president to raise issue with VP Biden on Wednesday
- Turkey blames Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen for failed coup
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to complain to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden about the delay in extraditing an Islamic cleric accused by Turkish authorities of masterminding last month’s failed coup.
The U.S. position on Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, is “overshadowing our strategic partnership,” Erdogan said in televised comments on Sunday. “Turkey’s never asked from America to provide documents or proof on criminals that they’ve wanted us to extradite -- we’ve given them the terrorists they wanted,” he said.
Erdogan’s comments come a day after his Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned that the Gulen issue was “destroying” bilateral ties with its NATO ally, as Turkish officials seek to increase the pressure ahead of Biden’s visit to Turkey on Aug. 24. President Barack Obama’s administration has said clear evidence of criminal activity is needed to satisfy U.S. due-process requirements as well as provisions of the U.S.-Turkey extradition treaty.
Turkey has jailed more than 20,000 suspects and removed almost 80,000 people from public duty after the July 15 coup attempt. More than 200 people were killed and thousands were wounded during the revolt, as troops fired on civilian protesters and clashed with police forces in Istanbul and Ankara, the capital. The government declared a three-month state of emergency.
Erdogan also said the death toll from a suicide bomb at a wedding in the Turkish province of Gaziantep on Saturday night had risen to 51, with 94 wounded. The perpetrator was 12-14 years old and initial findings showed the attack was carried out by Islamic State, he said, without giving details.