Four Turkish parties sign joint statement calling for U.S. action to extradite Gülen

Four parties in Turkey’s parliament have issued a joint statement calling on the United States to take steps to extradite Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen, whose religious movement is accused by Ankara of plotting the coup attempt in 2016.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its coalition partner the far-right Nationalist Movement Party were joined by the main opposition secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) and nationalist Good Party in a statement demanding the return of the Islamist preacher, secularist daily Cumhuriyet reported.

The second largest opposition party in Turkey's parliament, the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), was not a party to the statement.

The statement warned Washington of the negative impact Gülen’s undisturbed presence in the United States was having on bilateral relations.

Gülen, who has lived in self-exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999, was once considered an ally of the AKP. However, a rift reportedly opened when Gülenist factions embedded in state institutions began pursuing aims contrary to the AKP’s interests.

The rift is widely thought to have developed into open conflict in 2013, when police and prosecutors linked to the movement targeted AKP ministers in a corruption probe.

Three years later, the AKP designated the religious movement as a terrorist group, calling it the Fethulahist Terrorist Organisation, or FETÖ, and in July 2016 the AKP survived a coup attempt that is widely blamed on Gülenist factions.

“The FETÖ leader Gülen continues to direct his terrorist organisation from the United States, and using the same tactics as the Islamic State and al Qaeda continues to spread its twisted views”, said the Turkish parliament’s statement.

“The lack of action against FETÖ and its leader by U.S. officials is negatively affective U.S.-Turkish relations. As four parties in Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, we are notifying (the United States) of the widespread reactions this has provoked from Turkish society”, it said.

Turkey and the United States have faced a succession of serious disputes since the coup attempt, with the countries’ diverging foreign policies holding them apart as well as the dispute over Gülen and imprisoned U.S. citizens and consulate workers that Turkey says are linked to the movement.