Ankara failed to submit sufficient evidence for Gülen extradition - John Bolton

The Turkish government failed to provide sufficient evidence for the extradition of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, accused by Ankara of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt, former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said. 

Bolton said he does not believe U.S. President Donald Trump was involved in the decision to deny Ankara’s requests for extraditing Gülen and the Turkish government repeatedly submitted the same documents, which lacked evidence of the cleric’s involvement in the failed putsch,  Bolton told T24 news site on Monday.

Ankara maintains that Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, masterminded the 2016 attempted coup that led to the deaths of more than 250 people and has designated his Gülen movement a terrorist organisation. 

Gülen, a former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, denies involvement in the failed putsch.

Turkey has sent multiple different extradition requests to the U.S. government while pursuing a worldwide crackdown on followers of Gülen in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt.

“Trump did not play a role (in the refusal of the extradition requests),’’ Bolton told T24.  “The decisions were generally made by the Ministry of Justice.’’

Bolton also spoke on Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence systems.

Ankara and Moscow in Sept. 2017 signed a loan agreement for the supply of S-400s to Turkey. The United States and its NATO allies see the Russian system as incompatible with NATO systems and posing a security threat to the F-35 stealth fighter. Turkey began to take delivery of S-400 components in late July of last year, prompting Washington to remove Turkey from the F-35 fighter jets programme, in which it was a manufacturer and buyer.

“We didn’t understand by Erdoğan took steps to distance Turkey from NATO,’’ Bolton said. “Why was he weakening Turkey’s ties with NATO and why was he putting Turkey on a course where it draws nearer to Russia?’’

Bolton added that it was very difficult to make meaning of such steps from a NATO member country.