Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Brief Examines the Proposed Extradition of Fethullah Gülen to Turkey and the Implications for U.S.-Turkish Relations
Press Release

RELEASE: Brief Examines the Proposed Extradition of Fethullah Gülen to Turkey and the Implications for U.S.-Turkish Relations

Washington, D.C. — In the aftermath of July’s failed coup attempt in Turkey, the Turkish government has aggressively called for the extradition Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic scholar and U.S. permanent resident whom the Turkish government accuses of planning the coup. As the U.S. government engages in its official review of the evidence, Turkish officials have publicly demanded the immediate handover of the man they hold responsible for the bloody coup attempt, threatening serious and long-lasting consequences for the bilateral relationship if Washington does not comply.

The Center for American Progress has released an issue brief detailing the process, terms, and conditions governing extradition and the U.S.-Turkey extradition treaty. The brief looks at the Gülen case in particular and analyzes the political and legal drivers behind one of the most controversial extradition requests in recent U.S. history.

“The July 15 coup attempt was rightly denounced by all the major Turkish political parties and the international community,” said Max Hoffman, CAP Associate Director for National Security and International Policy and co-author of the report. “Those involved in the plot must be brought to justice. And while the U.S. government is taking the charges against Gülen very seriously, it must follow the process laid out in the bilateral extradition treaty and adhere to relevant U.S. law in assessing any extradition request. This process includes a thorough evaluation of the evidence—including files the Turkish government has not yet provided—to establish probable cause and can take some time.”

Gülen—a former political ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who helped the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, secure its hold on power—had a dramatic political falling out with ruling party in 2013, when groups sympathetic to Gülen in the police and judiciary brought corruption charges against Erdoğan, his family, and several government ministers. Three years of political warfare have ensued, with the AKP working to systematically root out Gülenist influence from the Turkish state. The Turkish government views the July 15 coup attempt as the latest—and bloodiest—salvo in this struggle and began blaming the coup attempt on Gülen just hours into the plot.

“In their zeal to secure Gülen’s extradition, the Turkish government should respect the judicial process and counter those who wrongly say the United States is protecting Gülen or was somehow involved in the coup attempt, outrageous claims that damage the already tenuous relationship between Washington and Ankara,” said Michael Werz, CAP Senior Fellow and co-author of the report.

As with all extradition cases, U.S. government lawyers will rely on the process laid out in U.S. law and the applicable treaty with Turkey to assess whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant extradition. The brief outlines that process, detailing the legal requirements the United States must fulfill before it can legally turn Gülen over to the Turkish government. It also looks at the political context surrounding the case and examines the ways it may affect an already strained relationship with Turkey.

Click here to read the brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.