Turkey

US delegation arrives in Ankara to discuss FETO

Turkish authorities meet US officials for sixth time to discuss FETO terror group and its US-based leader

  | 03.01.2019
US delegation arrives in Ankara to discuss FETO

Ankara

By Kemal Karadag

ANKARA

A U.S. delegation including FBI officials arrived in the Turkish capital on Thursday to discuss developments in U.S. probe into Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup attempt in Turkey.

Since July 15, 2016, when the coup attempt took place, the two countries have held talks many times on FETO terror group and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen.

On July 19, 2016, the Turkish Justice Ministry sent four files to Washington requesting Gulen’s extradition for the first time, officially starting the extradition process.

Turkish authorities asked for the provisional arrest of Gulen in one of the files sent to Washington. 

On Aug. 7, 2016, the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to Turkey proposing that a Justice Ministry delegation could come to the U.S. or a U.S. delegation would be sent to Turkey for talks on the issue.

In response, the Justice Ministry asked a U.S. delegation to come to Turkey first and then Turkey would send its delegation to the U.S.  

First meeting with US delegation

At Turkey’s request, a four-member U.S. delegation arrived in Turkey and held talks with Justice Ministry officials on Aug. 22-23, 2016.

It was the first meeting between U.S. and Turkish officials on the FETO terror group and its leader Gulen. 

The ministry officials shared with the delegation evidence of Gulen’s role in the coup attempt and called for his extradition.

The meetings lasted for nine hours on the first day of talks, and eight hours on the second day.

On Sept. 10, 2016, the ministry’s first request for provisional arrest of Gulen was sent to the U.S. Justice Department.

The Turkish side stressed that the coup attempt occurred on the orders of Gulen, the terror group’s leader.  

Talks in US

Bekir Bozdag, then-justice minister, twice requested Gulen's extradition while holding talks with U.S. officials in Washington.

Visiting Washington together with a delegation to discuss Gulen’s extradition in October 2016, Bozdag met his outgoing counterpart Loretta Lynch.

During their talks, Bozdag conveyed Turkey’s sensitivities on the request for Gulen’s extradition and provisional arrest.

In February 2017, he wrote seeking Gulen’s extradition in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who took office that January.

A month later, in a phone conversation with Sessions, Bozdag once again pushed for the extradition.

Turkey’s then-justice minister once again met with his U.S. counterpart in Washington on May 8, 2017, just days ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the country of May 15-17.

Bozdag shared details from new documents telling how the coup attempt was ordered by Gulen.

This was the third meeting that took place between the U.S. and Turkish officials on FETO terror group.

Erdogan raised the issue of Gulen’s extradition during his meeting with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on May 16, 2017.

Turkish Parliament Speaker Binali Yildirim also discussed Gulen’s extradition with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the February 2017 Munich Security Conference.

Yildirim stressed Turkey was ready to make every kind of cooperation with the new U.S. administration towards Gulen’s extradition and that meeting Turkey’s expectations on the subject would open a new page in relations with the U.S. 

New extradition request

Turkey’s current Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul continued to have talks with U.S. officials, reiterating the country’s extradition request and sharing new evidence to the U.S.

Gul held a phone conversation with Jeff Sessions on Nov. 7, 2017 and in a Dec. 15 letter to Sessions, reiterated Turkey’s extradition request.

The last file requesting for Gulen’s extradition was sent to the U.S. on Nov. 3, 2017, bringing the number of files asking for Gulen’s extradition sent to the country to seven. 

New attention-grabbing evidence on FETO

In addition to the files seeking extradition of Gulen, the Justice Ministry has also sent scores of documents to the U.S. about activities of the FETO terror group.

Lastly, the ministry sent new evidence in June 2018 showing that FETO’s so-called civilian imam Hakan Cicek contacted Gulen over the coup attempt.

In July 2018, a U.S. delegation held talks with Turkish officials in the capital Ankara and discussed FETO-related topics including Gulen’s extradition.   

Today’s meeting

The total number of inter-delegation meetings will rise to six together with talks being held between Turkish and U.S. officials in the capital Ankara on Thursday.

During the talks, the U.S.’ new probe into FETO will be discussed. Turkey will share new evidence with the U.S. delegation on the FETO terror group. The talks will continue on Friday as well.

FETO and Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

FETO has a considerable presence abroad, including private schools serving as a revenue stream for the terror group, many of them in U.S. states.

FETO schools in the U.S. have faced legal challenges of financial mismanagement, misappropriation of public funds, and abusing the immigration process.

As of 2017, FETO operated 136 charter schools in 28 states, and used more than $2.1 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars since 2010, according to CBS News in the U.S.

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