Ankara, August 9, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
There is a growing anti-American mood in Turkish society, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said, suggesting that the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish preacher accused of staging the failed July 15 coup, to Turkey would prevent the mood from turning into hatred toward the United States.
“Stopping the growing anti-U.S. views in Turkey and its transformation into hatred is in the hands of the United States. It will be stopped [if it extradites Gülen],” Bozdağ said Aug. 9.
“I believe the U.S. should revise its line on this issue that negatively affect people-to-people relationships,” he said.
“I would like to express my belief that U.S. officials will revise this, because the U.S. is a big state,” Bozdağ said, underlining that he was sure that they would extradite Gülen to Turkey.
Gülen, who exiled himself to the U.S. in 1999, and his organization are accused of orchestrating the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey and of bombing the Parliament, state buildings and killing at least 240 people.
Gülen’s continued presence in the U.S. will affect state-to-state relations as well as people-to-people ties, Bozdağ said. “Ties between the states can be repaired in one way or another. But there is something that can’t be repaired. There is a serious disturbance in the Turkish public against the U.S. The anti-US mood has reached a peak. It’s on the rise toward hatred.”
Washington would be able to find many excuses if it chooses not to hand Gülen over to Turkey, Bozdağ said, adding that any negative response from Washington would be tantamount to a political decision from the U.S.
It is Turkey’s right to expect that the U.S. will not harbor Gülen but extradite him to Turkey, Bozdağ said. “If the U.S. does not extradite Gülen, it will sacrifice Turkey for a terrorist. Which one is more important to the U.S.; the friendship of Turkey and the Turkish people or the friendship of Fethullah Gülen? Gülen has lost his ability to be a useful tool for both the U.S. and other countries.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department was expected to send a technical delegation to Turkey this week over the government’s request to extradite Gülen.
In return, a delegation from the Justice Ministry will later depart for the U.S. to discuss the extradition after the U.S. delegation’s visit.
Ankara has already lodged two extradition demands with the U.S. for Gülen.
In addition, the minister said around 16,000 people had been arrested and another 6,000 had been detained as part of the investigation into the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).